In true Tudor spirit, on a typically wet and dismal Twelfth Night here at Mary Arden's Farm we all donned woolly hats and wellies to go wassailing in the orchard!
There are many different variations of a wassail but the general purpose is the same: to ensure the well-being of your fruit trees by drinking to their health and making a lot of noise to frighten away evil spirits.
We toasted the good health of the orchard with lambswool, a warming
drink made from ale, apple and spices, so-called because the frothy top looks
like wool. We then proceeded to make as
much noise as possible, singing traditional wassail songs, banging drums,
shaking tambourines, and generally making a racket to make sure no evil spirits
remained lurking in the orchard. Each
tree received a libation of lambswool over its roots and a slice of bread
placed in its branches as a gift to the tree spirits.
Despite the drizzle, a good time was had by all, but we will have to wait until the apple harvest this autumn to see if our efforts have been successful...
Mistress Sarah’s Lambswool Recipe:
2 pints ale or cider
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground ginger
½ jar apple sauce or equivalent amount of apple cooked down to a puree
Sugar to taste
Add all of the ingredients to a large pan and heat gently for 30 mins until warmed through and frothy.