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As the Twelfth Night approaches, why not have a go at wassailing this January? No, it isn’t a watersport. Wassailing is an ancient tradition of giving thanks and asking for blessings in the coming year. It originates from the West country and involves blessing the orchards in hope of a good crop next year. The best bit is making an ‘offering’ that you share with the plants and trees as part of the ritual.

Typically, people head to the orchards for some post-Christmas merriment and cheer which has a dual purpose of warding off evil spirits. If you don’t have an orchard (who does!) you could do this in your own garden or perhaps allotment with other lot holders.

Wassail the trees, that they may bear
You many a plum and many a pear:
For more or less fruits they will bring,
As you do give them wassailing.

17th-century English lyric poet Robert Herrick 

Now to make a traditional Wassail, which is like a spiced mulled cider – it’s delicious!

Wassail Recipe


  • 4 cups (just under 1ltr) apple cider
  • Half and inch of fresh ginger, peeled and then grated
  • 2 whole lemons, sliced thinly
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 3 star anise – add some flavour and look beautiful!!
  • ½ vanilla bean or 8g or vanilla extract
  • Bourbon – about 45m per drink


Combine all ingredients (except Bourbon) into a saucepan and simmer for a minimum or 30min, ideally about an hour. Do not allow to boil.

When done, add your shot of Bourbon into each glass and top up with your lovely mulled cider mixture. Add the star anise for prettiness and serve!

Kids alternative

Use good quality apple juice instead of cider and add some cinnamon and nutmeg for the ‘kick’.

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