The term wassail goes back to anglo-saxon times and is a form of toast. “Waes Hael” – Be of good health. The reply to this toast is for the company to say “Drinc hael” – Drink healthily.
Wassailing in the Stroud area was practised until the 1960s, and is now gradually being revived. There is a rich collection of wassail songs from the villages around Stroud and this corner of the Cotswolds.
The songs reflect a tradition that was widespread in England but is somewhat different to the apple wassailing that has become popular in recent times.
Close to 12th Night, the wassailers would go from door to door, or around the pubs, carrying a wassail bowl and singing a wassailing song. The theme is to wish everyone a prosperous year.
You can find more information about Wassailing on the Glos Christmas website. There are words and recordings of many wassails songs from the area on the site. www.gloschristmas.com