Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Twelve Days of Tudor Christmas: Caroling

On the Ninth day of our Twelve Days of Tudor Christmas, we will discuss Caroling. Caroling as we know it is a mostly 19th Century invention. However, it does have its origins in Medieval and Tudor times. Wassailing (not to be confused with the drink Wassail, though they are connected) was a type of "caroling" performed three times a year (Christmas, Jan. 6th/Twelfth Night, and Shrove Tues.) by local peasants. They would "come a wassailin'" to the Lord's manor, begging charity. These were not normal beggars, but local townspeople who only asked charity on these days. When approaching the manor, they would sing "We are not daily beggars that beg from door to door, but we are friendly neighbors whom you have seen before."

A famous Victorian carol is based on Wassailing. It is aptly titled "He We Come a Wassailing." Watch the video below to hear my favorite version of it:



Unfortunately, it is only instrumental. However, here are the lyrics to the original song:


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 send you a Happy New Year. 

We are not daily beggers
That beg from door to door,
But we are neighbors' children
Whom you have seen before
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 send you a Happy New Year.

The connection between Wassail (the drink) and Wassailing stems from pagan roots where villagers would make Wassail as well as sing to the apple trees in the hopes of a fruitful harvest.
We are not daily beggars that beg from door to door but we are friendly neighbors whom you have seen before. Pin It

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