It sounds innocent enough, but occasionally wassailing would delegate in bands of drunken men banging on the doors.
Christmas caroling — going door-to-door or standing on a corner in the singing of beautiful christmas carols, ideal in Victorian attire — is today mainly seen as a charming and innocent sign that Christmas is near. But in reality, it has a very interesting history that is hinted at by a less known word for caroling: wassailing.
Wassail (speaks WOSS-ul), another name for hot warm cider, can trace the roots of the name of the Old Norse term ves heil and the Old English was hál, meaning “be healthy!” The medieval custom of “wassailing” involved farmers go to the houses of their feudal lords and receive wassail and food in exchange for a blessing (inspirational songs, including “here We Come A-Wassailing” and “We Wish you A Merry Christmas”), which, in turn, inspired by the tradition of going from door to door singing of christmas carols.
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It sounds innocent enough, but occasionally wassailing would delegate in bands of drunken men banging on the doors of the rich and famous, and demanding free food and drink.
Funny to think that when the earliest carolers sang, “Now us some figgy pudding,” they actually meant. It is just one of the many weird Christmas traditions from around the world.