December 30, 2013
As we ring in a brand-new year, we're mixing up a classic winter drink with thousand-year-old roots in England. Both a traditional toast and the drink used for toasting, the term “wassail” comes from the Old English salutation “Waes Hail,” meaning “be you healthy.” In southern England, a region known for apple cider production, medieval farmers began each year by singing and toasting their apple trees with wassail—a mulled punch made using cider, wine, or mead. The ceremony was said to awaken the apple trees and scare away any evil spirits, ensuring a bountiful harvest the following autumn. The good-spirited tradition also spread to cities, where wassailers took bowls of warm punch from house to house or served it at New Year celebrations. Read on to find our favorite recipe for toasting a year filled with good fortune.