4 Annotations

in Aqua Scripto   Link to this

was·sail (wsl, w-sl) {from on line free dictionary}
n.1. a. A salutation or toast given in drinking someone's health or as an expression of good will at a festivity.
b. The drink used in such toasting, commonly ale or wine spiced with roasted apples and sugar.
2. A festivity characterized by much drinking.
v. was·sailed, was·sail·ing, was·sails
v.tr.
To drink to the health of; toast.
v.intr.
To engage in or drink a wassail.

[Middle English, contraction of wæshæil, be healthy, from Old Norse ves heill : ves, imperative sing. of vera, to be; see wes-1 in Indo-European roots + heill, healthy; see kailo- in Indo-European roots.]

in Aqua Scripto   Link to this

More from the OED:
1. A salutation used when presenting a cup of wine to a guest, or drinking the health of a person, the reply being DRINK-HAIL.
c1205 LAY. 14309 Reowen..bar an hir honde ane guldene bolle i-uulled mid wine..& ...
3. A custom formerly observed on Twelfth-night and New-Year's eve of drinking healths from the wassail-bowl. .....
1616 ..... Masque of Christmas 2 Enter..Wassal, Like a neat Sempster, and Songster; her Page bearing a browne bowle, drest with Ribbands. 1661 New Carolls for Christmas, For Twelfth-day iii, The Wassell well spiced, about shall go round.
A custom formerly observed on Twelfth-night and New-Year's eve of drinking healths from the wassail-bowl
Also, ? the person invited to drink from the wassail-bowl. Obs.
c1650 New Christmas Carols, Carrol for Wassel-Bowl 7 Good Dame here at your Door Our Wassel we begin.
Wassail er : One who takes part in riotous festivities; a reveller.
1634 MILTON Comus 179, I should be loath To meet the rudenesse, and swill'd insolence Of such late Wassailers

in Aqua Scripto   Link to this

additional back reference: a washeallbowle1 woman and girl came to us and sung to us.
http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1661/12/26/
The wenches with their wassall bowls About the streets are singing.” —Wither’s Christmas Carol.
The old custom of carrying the wassail bowl from door to door, with songs and merriment, in Christmas week, is still observed in some of our rural districts.—B.
Wassail
There’s a website devoted to the tradition of making wassail - http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/5567/wassa... A reversion to saturnalia! from Aus. Susan.

Bill   Link to this

The Wassail Bowl is also mentioned, with annotations, on 26 December 1661: http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1661/12/26/

The encyclopedia entry for Christmas also discusses wassail: http://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclopedia/314/

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References

  • 1663