apple cider
Photo by Heidi Kaden on Unsplash

Ves heill means “be in (good) health”.

The toast of Wassail was brought to England by the Danes and spread quickly. Toasts are statements made in honor of a person, group of people, or idea, followed by a drink. Another pre-Christian practice, driving out evil spirits that might blight their crops, by singing, shouting, and making noise in the fields and apple orchards also became part of Wassail. The villagers poured cider onto the ground to encourage bountiful crops. This practice continued in parts of England after converting to Christianity. Over time, the term wassail came to refer to the drink, the toast, and the practice of going Christmas caroling. Historically, Wassail (the beverage) was an alcoholic drink made from hot mulled mead, hard cider, or ale. A typical version of Wassail is a drink called Lamb’s Wool. It is made from an ale whipped to a froth with floating roasted crab apples. Some of the recipes for Wassail include egg as well. Modern versions of Wassail can also be non-alcoholic, typically a hot spiced cider. Traditionally, Wassail was served from large communal bowls, often with floating pieces of toast in it, which is where the phrase to toast someone came from.

Click here to see a Rum Apple Cider Wassail recipe.