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Sugar Wassail

GUEST,Kim C no cookie 02 Dec 08 - 11:19 AM
Malcolm Douglas 03 Dec 08 - 09:55 AM
GUEST,Kim C no cookie 03 Dec 08 - 11:46 AM
ClaireBear 03 Dec 08 - 01:37 PM
GUEST,Kim C no cookie 03 Dec 08 - 02:59 PM
katlaughing 03 Dec 08 - 03:17 PM
ClaireBear 03 Dec 08 - 03:24 PM
ClaireBear 03 Dec 08 - 04:41 PM
GUEST 10 Dec 11 - 12:18 PM
GUEST,Guest 09 Jan 12 - 08:22 AM
GUEST,guest 09 Jan 12 - 08:26 AM
Cats 09 Jan 12 - 01:46 PM
Sian H 09 Jan 12 - 04:37 PM
*#1 PEASANT* 10 Jan 12 - 12:30 AM
GUEST,optic 10 Dec 16 - 07:06 AM
GUEST,Optic 10 Dec 16 - 07:15 AM
FreddyHeadey 10 Dec 16 - 11:13 AM
Sian H 11 Jan 17 - 06:16 PM
keberoxu 12 Jan 17 - 06:17 PM
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Subject: Sugar Wassail
From: GUEST,Kim C no cookie
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 11:19 AM

So, Mister picked up a copy of Waterson-Carthy's Holy Heathens and the Old Green Man (get a copy if you don't have it, I'm just sayin).

Anyhow, I have a question about the Sugar Wassail. The last verse says, Bring out your silver tankards, likewise your kissing spear. . . or is it steer? I never heard of a kissing spear or a kissing steer and Googling either one brings up some interesting results, none of which are what I want to know.

So. Who knows what that line actually says, and furthermore, what is the object in question?

Many thanks. :-)


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Subject: RE: Sugar Wassail
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 09:55 AM

The short answer is that there's no such thing as a 'kissing spear', though that certainly does seem to be what they are singing. The longer answer is that, as they say in their sleevenotes, they got the song (via Vic Gammon) from the Rev John Broadwood's collection (published 1843); Broadwood noted it in (presumably) the early 1840s in Sussex, printing the line as

hang out your silver tankard upon your golden spear

Why the Watersons (or, perhaps, Vic) changed 'golden' to 'kissing', and what if anything it means to them, I have no idea. You'd have to ask them about that. It isn't what was traditionally sung.


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Subject: RE: Sugar Wassail
From: GUEST,Kim C no cookie
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 11:46 AM

Thanks Malcolm - that makes more sense. Who knows how words get changed over time, but they do.

I was really hoping a kissing spear was some obscure Yuletide tradition I didn't know about. Maybe I can make one up. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Sugar Wassail
From: ClaireBear
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 01:37 PM

Maybe it's a "kissing sphere" -- like a kissing ball?

(This suggestion is just for fun; Malcolm is clearly correct about the "golden spear" in that line's ancestry. I've seen that same line in another wassail from the 18th century.)

Claire


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Subject: RE: Sugar Wassail
From: GUEST,Kim C no cookie
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 02:59 PM

Hmmm. . . like a ball of mistletoe?

I know mistletoe doesn't come in balls, but my mom had a plastic ball o' mistletoe when I was little. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Sugar Wassail
From: katlaughing
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 03:17 PM

google comes up with the darnedest things: Kissing Sphere Approach


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Subject: RE: Sugar Wassail
From: ClaireBear
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 03:24 PM

There's a kissing ball tradition. I think it's traditionally two hoops at right angles to each other (think an embroidery hoop with the inner hoop stuck through the outer at right angles instead of straight), decorated with ribbons, evergreen, and holly and with a clump of mistletoe suspended at the bottom. Or maybe it could be all mistletoe.

There are many online, umm, purchasing opportunites (and craft instructions, in fairness) for kissing balls consisting of a styrofoam ball stuck through with greenery and such, but I can't find any pictures of what I think of as the "traditional" kind. I'll keep looking...watch this space.

C


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Subject: RE: Sugar Wassail
From: ClaireBear
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 04:41 PM

Had I looked under "kissing bough" instead of "kissing ball" I would have found at least a description of what I meant. From Wikipedia:

"A Kissing Bough is a traditional Christmas decoration in England. Also called a Christmas-bough or mistletoe-bough, it has the shape of a sphere or globe with a frame made of wire. The whole frame is covered with greenery. Red apples or oranges may be hung from ribbons in the centre and mistletoe is tied below. Additionally candles may be clipped to the frame and bright streamers are attached to the top . Another form that the Kissing Bough can take is that of a crown with a structure composed of only the top half of the globe."

(Oh, the mistletoe bough!)

Claire


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Subject: RE: Sugar Wassail
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Dec 11 - 12:18 PM

Thanks ClaireBear-- or Claire Beorn, if that's you. Very helpful!


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Subject: RE: Sugar Wassail
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 09 Jan 12 - 08:22 AM

If there is actually a version with these words then I guess that the 'kissing spear' is the poker which is plunged into the ale to heat it. No doubt it would 'hiss' or 'kiss' the liquid and boil the conconction.


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Subject: RE: Sugar Wassail
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 09 Jan 12 - 08:26 AM

Having re-read all the notes above, the term 'golden spear' fits equally well with the notion of a tankard for ale and a red hot poker glowing in the dark. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it!


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Subject: RE: Sugar Wassail
From: Cats
Date: 09 Jan 12 - 01:46 PM

In Cornwall and other parts of the west country kissing spheres, balls of greenery hung over doors, are traditionally taken down on old 12th night which is the tradional night for wassailing in some areas of Cornwall. My hamlet still wassails on the Saturday closest to Old 12th Night i.e. This saturday if anyone is around


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Subject: RE: Sugar Wassail
From: Sian H
Date: 09 Jan 12 - 04:37 PM

I love wassail songs and at our local wassails here in Sussex we have been singing the Sugar Wassail for a few years now. Amongst others. One of the wassailers (usually me) carries a twig from an apple tree dressed with some ribbon and with a bunch of mistletoe tied at the end. I refer to it as the 'Kissing Spear' and I hold it above the heads of people to encourage festive pecks of affection. After a few drops of cider it can become redundant. Good fun though.


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Subject: RE: Sugar Wassail
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 10 Jan 12 - 12:30 AM

There is a section involving spears in the huge book set- the folklore volume. Much conjecture about fertility- yes the change is recent

http://mysite.verizon.net/cbladey/wassailbook/wassailbook.html

The Book of Wassail Get yours today or get your university library to get one

Conrad

Our wassail in baltimore is sat. jan 14 free all welcome 6 onward


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Subject: RE: Sugar Wassail
From: GUEST,optic
Date: 10 Dec 16 - 07:06 AM

They are actually singing "Kissing SPHERE" . A kissing Sphere is hung in the centre of the room, either a ball shape or a hoop from which hangs Mistletoe. The Ball or hoop is covered in mistletoe, and as you know one expects to get kissed under it!


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Subject: RE: Sugar Wassail
From: GUEST,Optic
Date: 10 Dec 16 - 07:15 AM

I think the only words in the song that are misinterpreted are "We'll cut a TOAST???? from off the log and set it by the fire" . It doesn't make sense. I thought at first it was Tuss but even after all these years I cannot fathom out what the correct line must be. I can understand Cutting a piece off the Yule Log and setting it by the fire, but what is the name for that piece of wood colloquially?


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Subject: Lyrics Add: Sugar Wassail
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 10 Dec 16 - 11:13 AM

https://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/a_wassail_a_wassail.htm + pdfs

Source: Lucy E. Broadwood and John Broadwood, Sussex Songs (Popular Songs of Sussex). London: Stanley Lucas, Weber & Co., 1890. Arrangements by H. F. Birch Reynardson

1. A wassail, a wassail, a wassail we begin,
With sugar plums and cinnamon, and other spices in;

With a wassail, a wassail, a jolly wassail,
    And may joy come to you and to our wassail
    With a wassail, a wassail, a jolly wassail,
    And may joy come to you and to our wassail.


2. Good master and good mistress, as you sit by the fire,
Consider us poor wassailers, who travel thro' the mire;—
    With a wassail, etc.

3. Good master and good mistress~ if you will be but willing,
Come, send us out your eldest son with sixpence or a shilling;—
    With a wassail, etc.

4. Good master and good mistress, if thus it should you please,
Come, send us out your white loaf, likewise your Christmas cheese;—
    With a wassail, etc.

5. Good master and good mistress, if you will so incline,
Come, send us out your roast beef, likewise your Christmas chine;—
    With a wassail, etc.

6. If you've any maids within your house, as I suppose you've none,
They'd not let us stand a wassailing so long~on this cold stone;—
    With a wassail, etc.

7. For we've wassailed all this day long, and nothing could we find,
But an owl in an ivy-bush, and her we left behind;—
    With a wassail, etc.

8. We'll cut a toast all round the loaf, and set it by the fire,
We'll wassail bees, and apple-trees,1 unto your hearts desire;—
    With a wassail, etc.

9. Our purses they are empty, our purses they are thin,
They lack a little silver to line them well within;—
    With a wassail, etc.

10. Hang out your2 silver tankard upon your golden spear,
We'll come no more a-wassailing, until another year;—
    With a wassail, etc.

_


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Subject: RE: Sugar Wassail
From: Sian H
Date: 11 Jan 17 - 06:16 PM

This is still sung at Wassails in Sussex. The toast is indeed cut from a loaf. It's dipped in cider and placed on the tree branches before the wassail verse is chanted.


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Subject: RE: Sugar Wassail
From: keberoxu
Date: 12 Jan 17 - 06:17 PM

Thank goodness A Wassail thread with no wassaillants ooops


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