Wassail December 31 2014

 

I have been celebrating Wassail for years, making a hearty hot drink with lots of fruit, cider or juice, and a little ale to begin the New Year. There are those who are celebrating the passing of the old year, but I am training myself to be in the now and look forward with optimism, so let's go with that.

I once read that Wassail was once a celebration for the trees and plants, in honor of the fruit that they had blessed the family with, so every year I make a big pot and invite friends and neighbors to share it. At some point, we go outside and pour some of the Wassail out onto the roots of each fruiting tree, shouting Huzzah! Huzzah! to honor it. It's probably best to drink a little Wassail first, or you might never have the nerve to do this. On those days when I am celebrating alone with the trees, I say Huzzah very quietly, but with great gusto. The trees don't seem to require volume.

For me, there is something vital and wonderful about celebrating nature, and because New Year's Day is so often cold, it takes a ceremony to get me outside. The recipe for Wassail changes every year in our house according to what I have in the house and what foods we are eating. Sometimes we are dairy free, sometimes alcohol free, but the hardest year was the one when we were eating only raw foods. We compromised that year, and barely heated the Wassail so that we could preserve all the vitamins. Even though we are not strictly raw this year (far from it) I do recommend that you juice up fresh fruit and maybe a few veggies to add an extra punch of vitamins and minerals. Here is a general idea of what you can use to make a delicious drink.

Start with a good herbal spice tea such as CinnaBerry, GingerBerry, or Ginger Lemon.
Add apple cider
If you juice, add fresh juice made with greens, carrots and fruit of your choice.
Add one bottle ale or stout.
Add sugar, honey or agave to taste.
Add Cinnamon, Cloves and Allspice, either in a little bag, or loose, to be strained out when you pour.
Slice seasonal fruit such as apples, oranges and lemons on top.
Heat this wonderful concoction together and serve it in big mugs with a dollop of whipped cream, leaving enough in your pot to take outside and offer to your trees and plants, or share your cup of the brew with them.

It's a wonderful, whimsical way to start your year. Remember, too, that if the beginning of your year doesn't go well, you can begin again every day if you so choose.