Before there was carolling, there was wassailing, where seasonal songs were exchanged for money, food and ale. In the countryside trees were blessed, while in the towns wassaillers went house to house with their songs and calls for Christmas treats. Coming from the Anglo Saxon waes hael, ‘wassail’ is a toast wishing good health with a ‘be well’.
In November/December 2023 Eliza Carthy and Jon Boden combine their considerable talents and reputations within the UK folk scene, for the first time ever touring as a duo for a nationwide wassail across key venues. Presenting seasonal, traditional material on a stage decorated for the occasion, they will take audiences back to some of the oldest songs in the English canon, telling Christmas tales, spreading good cheer and lighting up the darkest days of the year, ahead of Christmas Day itself.