Waes Hael!

Wassail, Waysail, Waes Hael!

Wassailing is an original English midwinter custom… possibly the oldest part of Christmas.  Over the years many different spellings of the word have emerged including Waes Hael, Waysail and Wassel. Wassailers visit their neighbours to provide entertainment in exchange for food, money and… drink!

Cheers! When someone wishes you “Waes Hael” they are wishing that you “be whole, be healthy”.   You should reply “Drinc Hael” which means “drink to your health”.   This gets done rather a lot…


Wassailing has two main traditions.  One involves the visiting of fruit orchard to “wake up” the trees to ensure a good harvest. In Gloucestershire, the Wassailing tradition involved visiting your neighbours and wishing them health and success for the coming year (Waes Hael).  Entertainment, in the form of songs and maybe a play, was offered in exchange for food, drink and money.   

The Stroud Wassail

On Stroud Wassail Day we will be echoing this by knocking on the door of the Subscription Rooms and offering our best wishes and singing him a song or two.   We hope that he responds by offering us beer and cake…Stroud Wassail was started in 2014 and is a community event which brings extra visitors and trade to the town at the darkest time of year.  It also supports local charities. 

The Wassail Revels

It’s a variety show which features ceilidh dancing, spectacle, song, drama and the unexpected.  Some say that it is the most fun that you can have in January without leaving the country!

Song and Music Sessions

If you are looking for a place to sing or play… look out for our session friendly venues.  Identified by this sign!


See us on TV

in a programme telling all about wassailing and other

Christmas traditions.

Well worth a watch.

Stroud Wassail 2020

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