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The Queen of Wassail

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Anne Smarzik of Relics Jewelry & Gift Emporium proudly holds the Judge's Trophy she won last year at the first annual Wassail competition in Bastrop, Texas. This year she won the People's Choice award at the event, while Caledonia Cottage Quilts won the Judge's prize for an alcoholic wassail.


Some 15 local businesses in this town east of Austin vied for the coveted trophy, mostly with non-alcoholic versions of this Christmas tradition. Anne told me her recipe has been handed down through five generations of women, and she has daughters to continue the tradition. Her secret recipe, consisting of about 8 ingredients, derives from England where she was born.  


Relics is at 925 Main Street in Bastrop. Check out their fascinating store at


Photo by C. Cunningham




Clifford Cunningham

Dr. Clifford Cunningham is a planetary scientist. He earned his PhD in the history of astronomy at the University of Southern Queensland, and has undergraduate degrees in science and ancient history from the University of Waterloo. In 2014 he was named a contributor to Encyclopedia Britannica. He is the author of 14 books on asteroids and the history of science. In 1999 he appeared on the TV show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Asteroid 4276 was named in his honor in 1990 by the International Astronomical Union based on the recommendation of its bureau located at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

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