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The Wassail Bowl.

Wassailing is a very old tradition indeed. Wassailing is a serious of blessing customs the most famous of which being the Orchard Wassails of Southern England and the visit Wassails that happen in places such as Yorkshire, Cornwall and Gloucestershire. Father Christmas is sometimes pictures carrying a Wassail bowl, in which you would have typically found drinks such as “Lambs Wool” or “Smoking Bishop” all of which were fortified, warmed and spiced alcoholic drinks. The Wassail was a central part of Christmas feasting and it was in this capacity as symbolic leader of the revels that Father Christmas can be seen with a Wassail bowl.

A very good example of a Wassail drink to be served at Christmas is the previously mentioned “Smoking Bishop”. This recipe is taken from Eliza Acton's “Modern Cookery” published in 1845.

!Make several incisions in the rind of a lemon, stick cloves in these, and roast the lemon by a slow fire. Put small but equal quantities of cinnamon, cloves, mace, and allspice, with a race of ginger, into a saucepan with half a pint of water. let it boil until it is reduced one-half. Boil one bottle of port wine, burn a portion of the spirit out of it by applying a lighted paper to the saucepan; put the roasted lemon and spice into the wine; stir it up well, and let it stand near the fire ten minutes. Rub a few knobs of sugar on the rind of a lemon, put the sugar into a bowl or jug, with the juice of half a lemon (not roasted), pour the wine into it, grate in some nutmeg, sweeten it to the taste, and serve it up with the lemon and spice floating in it.

Bishop is frequently made with a Seville orange stuck with cloves and slowly roasted, and its flavour to many tastes is infinitely finer than that of the lemon.”


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