The Everyday Lore Project

17 January 2020 – Old Twelvey

17 January 2020 – Old Twelvey

Today is ‘Old Twelvey’. Remember all those Old New Years? Well, it’s now time for the Old Twelfth Nights. There was one yesterday and there’s another today.

Old Twelfth Night is notorious for apple wassailing, and on 17 January in Carhampton, Somerset, there’s always a terrific beano blessing the apple trees with cider before wooing them into providing a good harvest with song. But I couldn’t get to Somerset (and I’m actually going apple wassailing tomorrow), so I went to Plan B. 

The traditional drink to have while you wassail is called Lamb’s Wool. There are lots of recipes, but basically, it’s a bit like mulled wine but with ale and apples. But as I’m not brilliant with ale, I made the next best thing: fire cider.

So a confession, fire cider actually has nothing to do with any kind of Twelfth Night, old or new. Instead it’s another cold remedy, recommended to me by Badger North (and others). BUT it is cider-ish, so wassail-y-ish, and I am still a little phlegm-ridden, and it does use up a shed load of fresh horseradish (and there was A LOT of leftover horseradish from yesterday). Therefore, although only Old Twelfth Night adjacent, it worked for me. So I sterilised a jar, whipped all the ingredients out of the fridge and got grating.

One day I’ll remember to read a recipe through to the end before I start it.

The fire cider be ready this time next month. Once I’ve kept it in a dark cupboard and shaken it every day…

Happy Wassailing!


Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Day, B. (1998) A Chronicle of Folk Customs, London, Hamlyn

Forest, D. (2016) The Magical Year, Seasonal Celebrations To Honour Nature’s Ever-Turning Wheel, London, Watkins

Jones, J. and Deer, B. (1987) Cattern Cakes and Lace, London, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Roud, S. (2006) The English Year: A Month-By-Month Guide To The Nation’s Customs and Festivals, From May Day to Mischief Night, London, Penguin Books

Published by Liza Frank

Author of My Celebrity Boyfriend. Obsessed with hula hooping, sons of preachermen and fresh dates, sometimes all at the same time. Curator of Folklore Agony and The Everyday Lore Project.

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