Friday, December 28, 2012


On Christmas day, my family was singing "Here we come a-caroling," and the lyrics I remembered did not match the words in our songbooks. I remembered a version from a long-ago video featuring Peter Rabbit and other Beatrix Potter characters in a cozy village, in which the carolers sang, "Love and joy come to you, and to you your wassail too."

"What the heck is a wassail?" S. responded.

We had to look it up. Wikipedia provides the following:
Wassail (Old English wæs hæl, literally 'be you healthy') refers both to the salute 'Waes Hail' and to the drink of wassail, a hot mulled cider traditionally drunk as an integral part of wassailing, an ancient southern English drinking ritual intended to ensure a good cider apple harvest the following year.
Good to know!

And to top it off, we discovered this fantastical song in one of our less explored caroling books:
Wassail, wassail, all over the town,
Our bread it is white, and our ale it is brown;
Our bowl it is made of the maplin tree,
So here, my good fellow, I'll drink to thee. 
The wassailing bowl, with a toast within,
Come, fill it up unto the brim;
Come, fill it up, that we may see:
With the wassailing bowl I'll drink to thee. 
Come, butler, come bring us a bowl of your best;
And we hope your soul in heaven shall rest;
But if you do bring us a bowl of your small,
Then down shall go butler, the bowl and all.
This page lists five more verses but our version ended after v.3's threat of sending the stingy butler down to hell! They don't make Christmas carols like they used to...

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