Twelfth Night is a festival in some branches of Christianity marking the coming of the Epiphany or Theophany: the revelation of Christ as God incarnate. It is a celebration with food and drink at its center, especially a mulled cider punch known as Wassail. The word derives from the Anglo-Saxon Wæs þu hæl, which means "be you whole,"or “be in good health.” The traditional response is Drinc hæl, which means "Drink and be well." Wassail is also a verb, indicating either a practice of visiting houses with the Wassail bowl (see the 17th Century example pictured here) and singing and offering a drink in return for gifts, or of parading to apple orchards and reciting incantations or singing to the trees in order to promote a good harvest the following year.
An ancient chant goes:
Wassaile the trees, that they may beare
You many a Plum and many a Peare:
For more or lesse fruits they will bring,
As you do give them Wassailing.
The orchard wassail frequently involves Morris Dancers as well, and here are some appropriate cadences:
And here is our video lesson for today:
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