It was the custom in Redruth to visit properties as the Wassailers saw fit carrying a bowl full of specially concocted spiced ale which was then offered ceremonially to the householder or land lord. The household would the reward the singers with a drink or some other form of refreshment saffron cake was a popular choice. Traditional Cornish drinks like “Shenagrum” (Dark beer, brown sugar and lemon served hot) and “Mahogany” (Gin and black treacle) were popular rewards.
For the first time in a generation the Redruth Wassail returned to the town in 2015. The Wassail is led by a procession of musicians and singers who stop at several places in the town, including under the town clock where the bowl is presented to the Mayor of Redruth. A number of pubs, a residential care home, and the local Oddfellows Hall are included on the route finishing at the Miner’s Arms. Cornubian Oddfellows in Redruth are the custodians of the bowl on behalf of the Cornish Culture Association which remains in the their hall apart from a brief period when it is on display at the Cornish Studies Library. The bowl was commissioned and decorated by local artist Pol Jenkin. The custom is now set to occur on the last Saturday of November every year.
The Redruth Wassail song.
The Mistress and Master our wassail begin,
Pray open the door and let us come in.
Chorus: With our wassail, wassail, wassail, wassail;
And joy come to our jolly wassail
The Mistress and Master sitting down by the fire,
While we poor wassailers are travelling in the mire.
The Mistress and Master sitting down at their ease,
Put their hands in their pockets and give what they please.
I hope that your apple trees will prosper and bear,
That we may have cyder when we call next year.
And where you’ve one hogshead I hope you’ll have ten.
So what we may have cyder when we call again.
I hope that your barley will prosper and grow,
So that you may have some and enough to bestow.
Now we poor wassail boys growing weary and cold,
Drop a small bit of silver into our bowl.
I wish you a blessing and a long time to live,
Since you’ve been so free and willing to give.