Monday, October 28, 2019

Lambswool for Halloween night - Nov. 1 "Day of the apple fruit" lamasool

Like wassail, lambswool consisted of ale, roasted apples, sugar and spice and drunk to celebrate the apple.  The Celtic "la mas ubhal, that is, the day of the apple fruit; and being pronounced lamasool" was celebrated on November 1.

“Cider was formerly not the only drink concocted from the Apple; another famous potation was called "Lambswool," or more correctly, lamasool, the derivation of the word being the Celtic lamacsabhal—the day of Apple fruit. This appellation was given to the first day of November, dedicated in olden times to the titular saint of fruit and seeds.

The Lambswool was composed of ale and roasted Apples, flavoured with sugar and spice; and a bowl of this beverage was drunk, with some ceremony, on the last night of October. Roasted Apples formed an important item in the composition of the famed wassail-bowl.

Shakspeare probably alludes to this beverage in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' where we find the mischievous Puck saying, "Sometimes I lurk in a gossip's bowl, In very likeness of a roasted Crab."

In Sussex, the wassail-bowl was formerly made at Christmas time; it was compounded of ale, sugar, Nutmeg, and roasted Apples, the latter being called Lambswool.
On St. Clement's day, in East Sussex, the custom exists of going round from house to house asking for Apples and beer: this is called Clemmening.
A similar custom prevails on St. Catherine's Day, when the children sing a rhyme commencing— "Cattern' and Clemen' be here, here, here, Give us your Apples and give us your beer."”
 Plant lore, legends and lyrics by Richard Folkard. London: 1884

Dr. Johnson's dictionary 1818 -

“LAMBS-WOOL  n. s. [lamb and wool.]   Dr. Johnson. – “The first day of November was dedicated to the angel presiding over fruits, seeds, &c., and was therefore named la mas ubhal, that is, the day of the apple fruit; and being pronounced lamasool, the Fogo have corrupted the name to lambswool.” Col. Vallancey, Collect. de Reb. Hibern. iii. 441.
Lambswool is said to have been often met with in Ireland. See Brand's Popul. Antiq. i. 312.]
Ale mixed with sugar, nutmeg, and the pulp of roasted apples.
Those that commend use of apples in this kind of melancholy; lambswool some call it.  Barton, Anat. of Mel. p. 404
A cup of lambs-wool they drank to him there.  Song of the King and the Miller.”
Johnson, Samuel.  A Dictionary of the English Language.  London: 1818

Image (actually Wassailing):  Illustrated London News  Jan 12, 1861, p12

©2019 Patricia Bixler Reber
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