Nov 20, 2008

Wassail Bowl

This came from Free Spells Daily (which is a blog you should check out):

There is a wondrous feeling of commraderyand celebration when you pass a bowl of tasty grog around the circle. The Winter's Solstice is a time to give thanks for making it through the season, as it marks the shortest day of the year. "We have faith that spring will return in her veiled robes of the green goddess."

But the Wassail Bowl has an interestingorigin.

The passing of the bowl probably originates from a toast that still exists in Scandinavia. The familiar modern Scandinavian toast "sköl" derives from "scole", the drinking bowl shaped like the upper half of a human skull.

Originally, these bowls were fashioned from the actual skulls of enemy killed in battle. The pagan Scandinavians celebrated Juul(Yule) and passed skulls full of drink to celebrate. The actual verbal toast used was the old Norse wes heill meaning "to your good health."

When Norse invaders came to Celtic lands, they brought their own customs. They passed eventually into local culture. They were adopted and morphed into their more familiar forms of today. Now we commonly pass a wooden bowl, perhaps the influence of the druids and the reverence of mistletoe.

If you are a master with a lathe, you may enjoy the challenge the making a wooden bowl to suit. But, if you cannot, you may carve symbols and decoration into a pre-made wooden bowl instead. If carving doesn't suit you, you might get creative with some silver paint.

Giving a Wassail Bowl is a highly symbolic gift. It should be treasured among loyal friends and family.


Stop by for a Spell said...

Thanks for the props!!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting.. Thanks..

Joseph said...

If I may, there are several inaccuracies in the post. I confess I don't think much of the "free spells daily" blog, as they seem rather indiscriminate in what they pass along. This is a perfect case in point.

First off, the word "scole" is neither Old Norse nor Anglo-Saxon. There are several terms for drinking-bowls in both languages, and that ain't one of them. The ON word "sköll" means mockery and laughter; such a term for ribaldry seems as likely as any an origin for the modern toast.

I know of no historical source for the notion that the Norse drank out of skulls at all, let alone that it was a custom particularly associated with Yule.

It should be pointed out that the Norse did not "invade" "Celtic lands". By the time of the Norse attacks of the Viking Age, the Celtic inhabitants of Britain had already been conquered by the Romans and then the Angles and Saxons. The association of wooden bowls with the druids (who had been wiped out by the Romans many centuries before the Vikings got to Britain) is simply fantasy; wooden bowls were commonplace in early cultures the world over, and need no invented druidical association to explain them.

There are so many wonderful Christmas traditions that have their origins in the pre-Christian Scandinavian practices that it seems a shame to try to make such things up.

Aelwyn said...

Hi Joseph! Thanks for sharing your knowledge! :) I always love to hear other opinions and information---especially if I (or my post) is misinformed! :)

Luna said...

Informed or misinformed, I still find the notion of crafting these little bowls pretty damn cool. I was thinking of giving them to my coven for yule. They can use them for toasting or for an offering bowl...

Oh. and Sorry, but I have to tag you. I don't know may folks on here so you're it!

The rules of being "tagged:"

· Link to the person or persons who tagged you.
· Post the rules on your blog.
· Write 6 random things about yourself.
· Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them.
· Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
· Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Aelwyn said...

Luna: That is a very good point! :)

Doing some research, I found this link about Wassail Bowls:

I'm going to do more research into their origins, as well. :) So expect to eventually (sometime before Yule) to see a bit of an article about them.

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