[Ads-l] Wassail - a toast: "Be thou well"

Andy Bach afbach at GMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 19 16:36:42 UTC 2018

I always wondered too:
"My favorite in the Christmas canon is “Here We Come A-Wassailing,” with
its hearty chorus of “Love and joy come to you, / And to you your wassail,
too.” I never had a clear idea of what a wassail was. Sounds like something
you wave when you’re happy, as a dog its tail, and that’s about right:
“wassail” is from an Old English expression meaning “be thou well,” uttered
while holding aloft a cup of mulled wine (or ale or punch). The word came
to refer to the drink itself, and then became a verb: to go a-wassailing is
to go from house to house wishing the occupants good health and collecting
a little cash on the side, perhaps to spend on . . . wassail. It’s a
Christmas carol that doubles as a drinking song. The wassail of my choice
this year is a giant bottle of stout bottled in Wisconsin under the label
“For Whom.” All in favor of “whom” are invited to step up. Next!


Rest ye merry, dialecticians!


Andy Bach,
afbach at gmail.com
608 658-1890 cell
608 261-5738 wk

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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