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Christmas Wassail

December 8, 2018

Jordan Durbin


I’ve been told that I was born out of time.  I dream of having an open-hearth fireplace as a centerpiece in my kitchen.  It won’t be a modernized fireplace.  No natural gas and fake logs!  It shall be complete with a spit for the roasting of great pieces of meat and a fireplace crane for the simmering of cast iron pots of apples and the baking rustic loaves. 

I may be a minority to daydream of such things the year around, but something at Christmas calls all of us back.  Whether our minds romanticize Victorian periods resplendent with plum puddings or icy Scandinavian candlelit Santa Lucia celebrations or post-war New York with grandparents, Christmas awakens memories and tugs our hearts backwards.  And no wonder!  We’re celebrating a miraculous event that is truly ancient!  The juxtaposed glory and simplicity of Bethlehem calls us to feast and sing and recount!

Christmas traditions can get a bad reputation as burdensome or wearying, but I love them.  They are tangible ways to walk in the paths that our ancestors did and light those same paths for our children.  Traditions create rhythms in our lives that echo the tempo of generations!  A few weeks ago, my youngest little minion who is five years old, asked me for a drink of wassail.  I felt victorious.  I usually simmer some around Christmas time while we go caroling, and steaming mugs of it welcome us home.  In my mind and heart, he was asking for more than a drink.  He was remembering.

This is a non-alcoholic version and is incredibly easy to make, and no matter if you’re going a-wassailing or breakfasting a-waffling, it just feels special.

Christmas Wassail


1 gallon good apple cider

1 gallon cranberry juice

1 quart orange juice

2 cinnamon sticks

4-5 whole cloves

½ of a vanilla bean

5 peppercorns

2 allspice berries

1 lime and 1 orange cut into slices


Combine all juices in a crockpot or large stock pot.  Place all spices in a small muslin bag or bit of cheesecloth tied into a bundle.  Place the bundle in the juice and float the lime and orange slices.  Heat on low until steamy and warm.  


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