wassail \WAH-sul\ verb
1 : to indulge in riotous drinking : carouse
2 dialect England : to sing carols from house to house at Christmas
*3 : to drink to the health or thriving of
The farmer and his revelers wassailed the apple orchard, hoping for another fruitful season, and then merrily poured cider around the trees.
Did you know?
The salutation "wassail," from the Old Norse toast "ves heill" ("be well"), has accompanied English toast-making since the 12th century. By the 13th century, "wassail" was being used for the drink itself, and it eventually came to be used especially of a hot drink (of wine, beer, or cider with spices, sugar, and usually baked apples) drunk around Christmastime. This beverage warmed the stomachs and hearts of many Christmas revelers and was often shared with Christmas carolers. The verb "wassail" was first used in the 14th century to describe the carousing associated with indulgence in the drink; later, it was used of other activities associated with wassail and the holiday season, like caroling. Seventeenth-century farmers added cattle and trees to the wassail tradition by drinking to their health or thriving during wintertime festivities.
*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.
So now, when folks come around a-wassailing, you know just what the heck they're up to!
-The Gneech <-- doesn't wassail himself, but knows people who do