Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Delight

Here We Come A Wassailing

Jane Austen's Christmas, available from BarnesandNoble.ComChristmas is mentioned in all of Jane Austen's novels and even in some of her short stories. The Christmas season in Georgian England was a time of balls, parties and visiting and celebration. The Kinghtleys visit the Woodhouses, the Gardiners visit the Bennets, Lady Russell visits the Musgroves, John Moreland visits the Thorpes (with sad results), William Price visits his sister at Mansfield Park, the Westons hold a party, and John Willoughby distinguished himself when he, "danced from eight o'clock till four without once sitting down." These incidents and more are covered in Jane Austen's Christmas: The Festive Season in Georgian England by Maria Hubert.

All this company, visiting and merrymaking requires a lot of food. One popular holiday drink was Wassail. Wassail comes from the Anglo-Saxon toast "Waes Hael" or "Be Whole". The first "Christmas Carols" were Yuletide drinking songs and singers caroled their neighbourhoods carrying their wassail bowls with them.

Holiday Punch Holiday Wassail
1 gallon apple cider
1 large can pineapple juice (unsweetened)
3/4 cup tea (can use herb tea)

Place in a cheesecloth sack:
1 Tablespoon whole cloves
1 Tablespoon whole allspice
2 sticks cinnamon

This is great cooked in a crock pot. Let it simmer very slowly for 4 to 6 hours. You can add water if it evaporates too much. Your home will smell wonderful! Serve warm, garnish with orange slices.
Serves 20.

May you have a peaceful, blessed, and romantic
Christmas Eve. May the lights on your tree sparkle, the eggnog flow, and the presents find themselves wrapped before midnight.


Maggie Robinson said...

Merry Christmas! I'm so happy my daughter's doing all the cooking (except for my green bean casserole, which requires only opening cans, LOL---that I can do). You know, sometimes I just have a pot of water heating on the stove with cinnamon sprinkled in it. You can't drink it, but it smells so good.

Terry Stone said...

Merry Christmas, Gillian! Presents are wrapped (and in danger of being ate by the dog-but wrapped, none the less!).

I'm heading for some last minute dinner things, and all I have left is to fend off cries of 'Can't we open just ONE?' and to bake cookies tonight!

Lee McKenzie said...

Happy holidays, Gillian! Your wassail sounds delicious. Was pineapple juice readily available in Jane Austen's England, or is this a modern version of an old classic?

Terry, sounds as though your dog is enjoying the festivities. I have two indoor cats who think the tree is another climbing apparatus!

Alice Audrey said...

Merry Christmas!

I've always wanted to go a Wassailing. Just not in the cards for me. Something about tea totaling neighbors. *shaking head sadly*

Gillian Layne said...

Hi Maggie! I hope you all are enjoying your snow. It looks so pretty, but I know is a pain during the realities of daily routine.

And I smiled about the cooking. I just burned a batch of spiced nuts I was making for my father. My husband has taken over now, thank goodness.

Gillian Layne said...

Hugs, Terry! Did you make it through your family Christmas? We did! We're making cookies today, too. And DH is working on cinnamon rolls.

Good luck with your dog. Ours keeps "retrieving" the presents and dragging them around the house.

Gillian Layne said...

Lee, I loved your post over at Harlequin American. Here's some info on the history of the pineapple:

For centuries, the pineapple has been a symbol of hospitality. When the European colonists first travelled to the Americas, they witnessed that the native Carib Indians prized the pineapple above all other fruit and would hang it in the entrance to their dwellings as a welcoming sign.

"When they returned home, these the colonists respected this tradition. They brought back pineapples and placed them at the entrances to their homes, to indicate their return and invite neighbours in to share their food and drink." From the Del Monte site.

Your cats and my cats would get along really well! :)

Gillian Layne said...

Merry Christmas, Alice! You could come wassailing by my house any time. Sounds fun, doesn't it?

Kelly Krysten said...

Merry Christmas!!! I hope you get everything you want and more.

Lee McKenzie said...

Thanks, Gillian, for mentioning my Harlequin American Romance Authors post. I only post there once a month, and I'm never sure if people remember!

And an extra-special thank you for the history lesson about pineapple. I had no idea!

Marnee Jo said...

Merry Christmas Gillian!

This sounds great. I didn't have any dinners at my place this year or I might have given this a go. :) I did bake a pie yesterday and it made the house smell so yummy.

Gillian Layne said...

Hi Kelly! I hope you had a great Christmas!

Lee, no worries. :) I really enjoy visiting your Harlequin site.

Hi Marnee Jo! I hope you and yours had a lovely day. Your pie sounds delicious, it's been a while since we've had one.

Renee said...

Oh, that sounds delicious. I'll have to try it on one of these cold nights.


Renee said...

I forgot to add, Merry Christmas!!!

Gillian Layne said...

And Merry Christmas to you, Renee! I hope your holidays are going well. :)