Mistletoe Magic and Wassail

20161202_141654Remember the holiday tune “Here we come a-wassailing?”

Here we come a-wassailing among the leaves so green;
Here we come a-wand’ring so fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you, And to you your wassail too;
And God bless you and send you a happy New Year.  And God bless you a happy New Year.

Ever wonder what a-wassailing means?

It means to sing for some wassail. I guess it’s kinda like singing for your supper, only the carolers go from place to place hoping for a nip of the traditional hot beverage.

One of my winter and holiday favorites is Wassail, also know as spiced hot apple cider. It’s one of those things it’s hard to get wrong. All the recipes I’ve tried are yummy and satisfying. Some include citrus such as lemon and orange. Traditionally, it contains alcohol such as wine or rum or even ale, but I don’t drink alcohol so I make it without.  No matter how you make it, wassail is a comfort for cold winter nights as well as a solution for a sweet craving. A few years ago, a friend shared with me her trick: apricot juice. It adds a richness and complexity other recipes don’t have.

wassailHere it is:

1 large jug of apple cider

1 can of apricot juice

3 cinnamon sticks

4 nutmeg cloves

a dash of nutmeg

a dash of allspice

Optional: orange or lemon slices

All of these can be adjusted according to taste so you may want to experiment.

Simmer for at least an hour but you can simmer all day. It does get stronger and stronger so after several hours, you may want to tone it down with a bit more apple cider. It makes the house smell heavenly!

mistletoe-magic2In my Christmas novella, Mistletoe Magic, the heroine adores the wassail her friend’s mother makes and will go to great lengths to get the recipe…as well as take advantage of the mistletoe at the annual Christmas ball.

Order here on Amazon

Order here on Smashwords

 

Note: The Colonial Williamsburg blog has lots of fun history behind this traditional drink.

Kissing Under the Mistletoe

Mistletoe

Mistletoe

The fun holiday tradition of kissing under the mistletoe evolved over time, and like most holiday customs, has pagan origins. Ancient Celtic druids saw the mistletoe blooming even in the middle of winter and thought it contained magical properties of vitality. Some sources claim they thought the mistletoe was the spirit of the tree showing signs of life while the rest of the tree remained dormant and dead-looking. They completely missed that it is a parasite living off of trees. Since they thought it had such amazing powers, they often conduct fertility and healing rituals underneath a bow of mistletoe, and later gathered underneath it to negotiate peace between hostile parties. Husbands and wives made up under the mistletoe as a way of sealing their renewed love and commitment to peace within the marriage.

Eventually, people moved sprigs of the plant inside. In some locales of Europe and Great Britain, guests kissed the hand of their host under a sprig of mistletoe as they arrived. Later, the working classes and poor classes developed a custom of a maiden standing under the mistletoe, waiting for a kiss from a young man–they were expected to marry within a year. English maidservants willing to accept a kiss from a gentleman in exchange for money stood underneath the mistletoe indicating her willingness. The practice of kissing under the mistletoe worked its way up to the upper classes, becoming more of a parlor game or an excuse for behavior not normally condoned among unmarried ladies and gentleman.

Today the custom of kissing under the mistletoe during the Christmas Season exists in most of  Europe, Canada and America.

Holly

Holly

Mistletoe sometimes gets confused with holly but they are very different plants. Mistletoe (pictured above) has soft, pale green smooth leaves and white berries; holly (pictured to the right) has bright green ragged-edged leaves and red berries.

The Suspect's Daughter, book 4 of the Rogue Hearts Series

The Suspect’s Daughter, book 4 of the Rogue Hearts Series

 

My bold and determined heroine in my newest book, The Suspect’s Daughter, does not need the help of mistletoe to kiss the man of her dreams, Grant Amesbury, to show him just how much he needs her.

The Suspect’s Daughter, book 4 of the award-winning Rogue Hearts Series is available now on Amazon. Order your copy today. It would make a great last-minute gift for any romance readers on your shopping list.

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

http://www.history.com/news/ask-history/why-do-we-kiss-under-the-mistletoe

http://mentalfloss.com/article/31977/why-do-we-kiss-under-mistletoe

http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/why-do-people-kiss-under-mistletoe/