[caption id="attachment_23201" align="aligncenter" width="600"]<img src="https:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2018\/12\/DSC_0565.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="390" class="size-full wp-image-23201" \/> The word \u201cwassail\u201d has been in the English language since at least the 8th century, when it was used in the ancient poem, Beowulf. The tradition of offering a wassail bowl to one\u2019s guests continues today as many of us celebrate Christmas with our own special recipes for this delicious hot punch. L.D. Bennett photo<br \/>[\/caption]\r\n\r\nLaura Dean Bennett\r\nStaff Writer\r\n\r\nOld English Wassail Carol\r\nHere we come a-wassailing\r\nAmong the leaves so green;\r\nHere we come a-wand\u2019ring,\r\nSo fair to be seen:\r\nLove and joy come to you,\r\nAnd to you your wassail, too,\r\nAnd God bless you and send you\r\nA happy New Year,\r\nAnd God send you\r\nA happy new year.\r\n\r\nSome historians believe that the tradition of drinking wassail during the early days of winter actually originated about a thousand years ago.\r\n\r\nThe word \u201cwassail\u201d comes from an old Anglo-Saxon greeting and toast, \u201cwaes hael,\u201d\u00a0which meant, \u201cBe Whole,\u201d or \u201cBe Well.\u201d\r\n\r\nOriginally, wassail was a drink made of mulled ale, cooked apples, curdled cream, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, eggs and sugar.\u00a0\r\n\r\nIt was served from huge, often elaborate bowls, which were the pride of silversmiths \u2013 made of silver or pewter.\u00a0\r\n\r\nEver since the Middle Ages, in many parts of Britain, the night of\u00a0January 5 or Twelfth Night \u2013 was the time to go wassailing.\u00a0\r\n\r\nAnd some people still enjoy the custom today.\r\n\r\nThe original recipe gave way to many variations of spiced cider, wine or ale complemented by roasted apples and any other available fruits.\r\n\r\nIn addition to visiting one\u2019s neighbors with the wassail bowl or inviting family and friends to one\u2019s home to partake of the wassail, there were those who took their wassail to their orchards.\r\n\r\nThere was an ancient custom in farming regions like Cornwall for\u00a0farmers and their help to take a wassail bowl of fermented and spiced cider to the orchard to sing and toast to the apple trees. \u00a0\r\n\r\nThere would naturally have been the sharing of much good cheer among the wassailers, and before they went home, they would have shared some of the wassail with the apple trees.\r\n\r\nBy pouring a little wassail over roots of the trees the revelers hoped to ensure a good crop of apples come autumn.\r\n\r\nSometimes wassail-dipped bread or cake is hung from the apple trees\u2019 branches.\u00a0\r\n\r\nThere were many wassail songs that came out of this tradition.\r\n\r\nHistorians tells us that carrying the wassail from house to house and singing the wassail songs outside the doors of the homes was the forerunner of our Christmas carols and caroling.\r\n\r\nRather than fading into history, it seems people want to keep this old custom alive, and the wassail traditions have made a resurgence of late.\r\n\r\nThese days there are wassail festivals in London and many towns in Britain and throughout Europe.\r\n\r\nIn America, most of us are familiar with a wassail carol or two, and almost everyone has enjoyed a cup of mulled wine or spiced cider, whether they called it wassail or not.\r\n\r\nWassail was served here in Marlinton at McClintic Library\u2019s Christmas potluck dinner last week.\r\n\r\nPaula Stemple put together the special drink, and said she was first introduced to wassail by her mother-in-law, Marietta Stemple.\r\n\r\nHer wassail got a great reception by all in attendance.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt\u2019s so easy to make, and no matter what you put in it, everyone seems to like it real well,\u201d Paula said.\r\n\r\nShe told me that she used a half gallon of apple cider and added about half a cup of sugar, cinnamon sticks, cloves and orange and lemon slices.\r\n\r\n\u201cAnd it tasted good!\u201d she laughed.\r\n\r\nPam Johnson agreed.\u00a0\r\n\r\n\u201cIt had a sweet taste, but it wasn\u2019t overpowering, it was just refreshing,\u201d Johnson said.\r\n\r\n\u201cAnd it really tasted like Christmas.\u201d\r\n\r\nThis time of year at my house it\u2019s not unusual to find a crockpot or a pan on the back of the stove \u00a0filled with spiced cider ready to serve guests who come in the kitchen from being outside in the cold. \u00a0\r\n\r\nThere are as many recipes for wassail as there are cooks to prepare it.\r\n\r\nFor the base, some people use tea, some use wine, some use apple cider and some use ale.\r\n\r\nIn a pinch, you can just take a jug of cider and pour in a little orange juice, add a few cinnamon sticks and go with that.\r\n\u00a0\r\nIf you have a few fresh or frozen\u00a0cranberries left over from your Christmas dinner supplies, throw them in, too.\r\n\r\nIt can be that simple or as elaborate as you want to make it.\r\n\r\nI think the key is to serve it hot and to make it a little bit spicy.\r\n\r\nHere are two no-fail recipes that are easy and delicious.\r\n\r\nCrock Pot Wassail\r\n\r\n1 gallon apple cider\r\n27 whole cloves\r\n8 cinnamon sticks\r\n1 quart pineapple juice\r\n6 oz. frozen orange juice concentrate\r\n1 Tbsp. Nestea powder (optional)\r\n\r\nCombine all the ingredients in the crock pot. Heat on high heat until the mixture simmers \u2013 1-2 hours \u2013 or on low heat 3 or 4 hours, depending on your crock pot.\r\n\r\nStrain out the cloves and cinnamon sticks before serving.\u00a0\r\n\r\nStir in several thin orange or lemon slices, cut in half, and the wassail is ready to serve in a punch cup, tea cup or a heat-proof\u00a0drink glass.\u00a0\r\n\r\nThe wassail will be happy to sit in the pot \u201con warm\u201d for several hours as guests come and go \u2013 but do not let it\u00a0simmer or boil as it will get too strong.\r\n\r\nSweet Tart Wassail\r\n\r\nGallon of apple cider\r\n8 cups Cranberry Juice Cocktail\r\n1 orange, sliced\r\n2 to 4 Cinnamon sticks\r\n1\/2 cup of brown sugar (more or less to taste)\r\n2 Tbsp. Honey (more or less to taste)\r\nPlace all the ingredients in a pan on medium heat until just beginning to simmer. Reduce heat to keep warm. Ladle out wassail into cups and serve warm.