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Go a-Wassailing For Yule!

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The tradition of wassailing (pronounced to rhyme with fossil-ing)is hardly a new one. In centuries past, wassailers went from door to door, singing and drinking to the health of their neighbors. The concept actually harkens back to pre-Christian fertility rites -- only in those ceremonies, villagers traveled through their fields and orchards in the middle of winter, singing and shouting to drive away any spirits that might inhibit the growth of future crops. As part of this, they poured wine and cider on the ground to encourage fertility in the crops.

Eventually, this evolved into the idea of Christmas caroling, which became popular during the Victorian era, and is still seen today in many areas. If you think your family or friends might enjoy starting up a new, musical tradition, why not gather them together to go out a-wassailing for Yule? The following are traditional, secular wassailing songs which were performed back as early as the days of King Henry VIII. Although some are Christian in background and make references to "God" in their original form, I've made Pagan-friendly substitutions in some places. You can always change these to accomodate a particular deity of your tradition.

After you get home from your night of singing, relax by your fire with a pot of spiced wassail or hot buttered rum!

The Wassail Song (traditional English)

Here we come a-wassailing
among the leaves so green.
Here we come a-wand'ring
so fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you,
and to all your wassail, too,
may the gods bless you, and send you
a Happy New Year,
the gods send you a Happy New Year.

Good master and good mistress,
as you sit beside the fire,
pray think of us poor children
who wander through the mire.
Love and joy come to you,
and to all your wassail, too,
may the gods bless you, and send you
a Happy New Year,
the gods send you a Happy New Year.

Bring us out a table fine
and spread it out with cloth;
Bring us out a farmer's cheese,
and some of your Christmas loaf.
Love and joy come to you,
and to all your wassail, too,
may the gods bless you, and send you
a Happy New Year,
the gods send you a Happy New Year.


Gloucestershire Wassail (multiple versions available, believed to be Saxon in origin, Middle Ages)

Wassail, wassail all over the town
Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown,
We bring a bowl made of the white maple tree,
and with the wassailing bowl, we'll drink to thee!

So here is to Cherry and to his right cheek,
the gods send our master a good piece of beef
and a good piece of beef that may we all see.
With the wassailing bowl, we'll drink to thee!

And a toast to Dobbin and to his right eye
pray the gods send our master a good Christmas pie
a good Christmas pie that may we all see.
With the wassailing bowl, we'll drink to thee!

So here's to Great Big Mary and her great big horn,
may the gods send Master a good crop of corn,
and a good crop of corn that may we all see.
With the wassailing bowl, we'll drink to thee!

And a toast to Moll and to her left ear,
may the gods send our master a happy New Year,
And a happy New Year as e'er he did see.
With the wassailing bowl, we'll drink to thee!

And here is to Auld Colleen and her long tail,
may the gods guard our master that he never fail,
a bowl of strong beer! I pray you draw near,
and our jolly wassail it's then you shall hear!

And here's to the maid in the lily white smock,
Who tripped to the door and slipped back the lock,
Who tripped to the door and pulled back the pin
For to let these jolly wassailers in!

Apple Tree Wassailing (Somerset, 18th Century or earlier)

Hurray, hurray, in our good town
The bread is white, and the liquor brown.
So here my old fellow I drink to thee,
and the long life of every other tree.
Well may you blow, well may you bear,
blossom and fruit both apple and pear.
So that every bough and every twig
may bend with a burden both fair and big.
May you bear us and yield us fruit such a store,
that the bags and chambers and house run o'er!

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