Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Carol Spotlight: Gloucestershire Wassail

I hope you are at least vaguely aware of the awesomeness of Wassails. The term refers to both the spiced cider drink, and the ceremony for which it was originated.  The ceremony involves essentially singing to the trees (and often other crops and livestock) and drinking to their health for a good harvest in the year to come.

I'm not certain how the Gloucestershire Wassail came to be considered a Christmas Carol, but as the verbiage of Wassails were usually adjusted for the needs of those singing it and their crops, it is interesting to note that the most prominent recorded version was collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams for the Oxford Book of Carols from an old man from the county of Gloucestershire who sang it to him.  So we largely have that old man's version, singing for his particular Fillpail (cow) and Cherry (horse).

It's a pretty solid piece of British folk history.  Full of salt-of-the-earth-isms.  And oh so festive and cheerful sounding, no?

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