Nowadays, wassail, like sugarplums or hot buttered rum, is a part of the Christmas season that most of us experience mainly through references in songs and stories and artwork. But this old English custom is about much more than sharing a cup of good cheer. It’s about one of the parts of Christmas that’s mostly likely destined to remain stuck in Christmas past: inverting the normal rules of social order…with a little help from alcohol.

Thanks to Conrad Bladey, author of the five-volume The Book of Wassail, for appearing in this episode.

Be sure to check out the “Definitive Directory of Christmas Podcasts

Music in this episode

  • The Wassail Song — Chris Friesen, via Noisetrade
  • Slow Toe — Blue Dot Sessions, via Free Music Archive
  • Cases to Rest  — Blue Dot Sessions, via Free Music Archive
  • Wassail Wassail  — Don Maue, shared directly by the artist
  • Wish Background  — Kevin MacLeod via Incompetech