Time To Fiddle

                                              Five 17th century Wassail Bows for sale $300

The Wassail bowl  was turned of hard wood and treasured for the annual Christmas or orchard  celebration. A blend of spices and fruits and wine or cider was shared by all from the sacred bowl. The Acorn bowl above is no longer available.

The best I can gather is everyone drank from the same bowl.  Though they hold only a quart I use original dimensions.  It may have been refilled often from a larger heated brewing pot. There are many recipes for the brew on the internet.  There were no wassail mugs but I have made them for some customers.

Early mention of a wassail bowl was in the thirteenth century, a vessel in which revelers dipped cakes and fine bread. The practice of floating crisps of bread in the wassail bowl gave rise to our use of "toast" as a drinking salutation.

These new bowls hold 3 to 5 quarts and have been in production for over a year.  Each one has a traditional covered spice cup on top for dry spices. They are made from large pieces of spalted maple and black cherry.


The tradition of wassailing falls into two distinct categories: The House-Visiting wassail and the Orchard-Visiting wassail.

the Christmas House-Visiting wassail;  caroling by any other name, is the practice of people going door-to-door singing Christmas Carols . The Orchard-Visiting wassail refers to the ancient custom of visiting orchards, reciting incantations and singing to the trees in apple orchards in cider-producing regions of England to promote a good harvest for the coming year. 

Orchard Wassailing

In the cider-producing West of England (primarily the counties of Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire) wassailing also refers to drinking (and singing) the health of trees in the hopes that they might better thrive.

An old rhyme goes: “Wassaile the trees, that they may beare / You many a Plum and many a Peare / For more or lesse fruits they will bring, / As you do give them Wassailing.”

The purpose of wassailing is to awake the cider  apple trees and to scare away evil spirits  to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the Autumn.{"England In Particular", Common Ground 2007} The ceremonies of each wassail vary from village to village but they generally all have the same core elements. A wassail King and Queen lead the song and/or a processional tune to be played/sung from one orchard to the next, the wassail Queen will then be lifted up into the boughs of the tree where she will place toast soaked in Wassail from the Clayen Cup as a gift to the tree spirits (and to show the fruits created the previous year). Then an incantation is usually recited such as

“Here's to thee, old apple tree, That blooms well, bears well. Hats full, caps full, Three bushel bags full, An' all under one tree. Hurrah! Hurrah!”

Then the assembled crowd will sing and shout and bang drums and pots & pans and generally make a terrible racket until the gunsmen give a great final volley through the branches to make sure the work is done and then off to the next orchard. Perhaps unbeknown to the general public, this ancient English tradition is still very much thriving today. The West Country   is the most famous and largest cider producing region of the country and some of the most important wassails are held annually in Carhampton  (Somerset) and Whimple  (Devon), both on 17 January (old Twelfth Night).  - From Wikipedia

Wassail Bowls are sometimes available from  Mike Hebb    {mhebb1(at)yahoo(period) com}


The 2 bowls above and below this text are sold.

These bowls have undergone several stages of work with extensive seasoning in between.  Each one is made up if 5 turned pieces.  The cover has an inner rim to cause condensation go run back inside the bowl.

Pieces this large will likely change shape over time but the seasoning and finish will minimize it. They can be used as salad, fruit or punch bowls. I have tested the finish in micro waves and dishwashers and it has held up well. They can be submersed but the spice cup should be kept dry. Finishes these days cannot be the least bit toxic by law and this one is no exception.  Babies will chew anything.

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