Bowl, Wassail

Lignum vite urn-shaped bowl with lid. Late 17th century.

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Gifted as part of the Wilson Collection by Mrs Helen Warren

Wassailing is a ancient tradition in the south west of England, which involves singing and drinking wassail (a hot mulled cider-like drink) to encourage good cider apple harvest for the coming year. Sometimes the drink would also have eggs and thick cream in it, making it almost like a dessert.

The ceremony takes place on the pre-Georgian calendar Twelth Night", usually on January 6th or 17th. The farmers would walk to the best producing apple tree in their orchard, with the drink in tow, leave small snacks for the robins, who were the guardians of the trees, and then drive away the sleeping spirits by singing, blowing cow horns and beating trays and plates. Cider was poured on the roots of the trees.
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