Wassail! Wassail!

Most people do not realise the word ‘wassail’ dates back to Roman times. Apparently the Romans were made very welcome when they invaded Britain in AD 73 – They paid for everything in £sd, British men were glad the traffic jams around Ermin Street were sorted out in a frenzy of road building, and British women were able to take baths for the first time since the Ice Age! The British women were also pleased to see the youthful bronzed Romans, because the British men were, well, Ancient! The only people who did not like the Romans were the Silures Border Morris Men, who did not like being organised (nothing much has changed in 2000 years!), and the Boudiccan Molly Dancers of Norfolk, who objected to the newly introduced chariot speed limits.
 
So, when Christmas time came, the Romans were gratefully invited in to British houses, with the greeting “Come on in and have a glass of Ale!” Now the Romans had never heard of beer, (they only drank Lambrusco, Prosecco, and cheap red vino), so replied “What’s Ale?”
 
The British thought this was Latin for “Merry Christmas”, and used it as a seasonal greeting. Over the years  “What’s Ale?” became corrupted to “Wassail” and has been used ever since!
 
This explanation was given to me by well known folklorist Mr S Kipper in the bar at Gloucester Guildhall, so must be true!

Fairport Convention play the Wassailing Song (in 5/4 time!) but that is only because bassist Dave Pegg misheard the title as 'The Walsall Song' - but then he is from Birmingham!

Of course wassailing never really caught on until Isaac Newton invented gravity. He based the whole of his invention on the fact that a 125gm cider apple, or perry pear, would fall to the ground with a force of 1 Newton. This explains why so many apple varieties are named after him!





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