What the Wassailing Was That?

Around this time two years ago I was lucky enough to walk the red carpet at the Golden Globe Awards in California. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I dined on a three course Wolfgang Puck meal in the Beverly Hills Hilton and sipped (ok maybe glugged, since it was free) Moet alongside A-list celebrities and Hollywood big wigs – many of who are probably on some dodgy watch list now, but anyway.

Golden Globes
Red carpet at the Golden Globes – no big deal

This year it was my husband was the one invited. He got to mingle with the stars and get told by superstar DJ Mark Ronson to “please STOP dancing like that to my music”. (Doesn’t bode well for his tap classes does it.)

But where was I? Was I….

A.) Sat on the sofa watching the awards with my feet up by the fire? 

B.)Wrapped up like an eskimo, whacking the bejesus out of a saucepan with a wooden spoon, skipping around an old apple tree and chanting about three men trying to lift their sacks?

Well it would be a stretch even of my imagination to make the latter up.

I was celebrating Wassailing. Was..a.what? I hear you ask. I thought the same when it was suggested we throw this party in the apple orchard. 

My wise dad began to explain: “It’s an ancient PAGAN tradition,” at which point I tried desperately not to switch off. “It’s to awaken the CIDER apple trees and scare away the evil spirits to ensure a good harvest.” I heard cider and perked up. “There will be singing, dancing, gunfire, a bonfire and a lantern procession lead by the Wassail Queen.”

With this description it’s no wonder one of the 120 people invited to this bizarre shin dig ushered me into a corner at the children’s birthday party I was at just hours before the Wassail and whispered: “At this thing tonight, are we sacrificing anything?”

I looked around us to make sure no one could hear our covert conversation and nodded: “Yes. Why do you think the invite asked you to bring a saucepan? It’s to catch the blood.”

Wide eyed he asked: “Is it a pig? A chicken? Oh God, do we need to come in costume? Is your dad wearing a cloak and stuff?”

Turns out he’d been binge watching ‘Vikings’ and when I told him the saucepan was so we could hit it to make a noise and the only thing he might end up sacrificing was his dignity, I don’t know whether it was relief or disappointment I saw in his eyes.

Because while I am trying to eek out some trendy stuff to do in the countryside, it’s becoming ever more apparent that in quiet places like these, we often have to make our own entertainment and it can actually be – and pardon the pun – bloody brilliant.

I’m sure this is probably the first and only time someone has compared the Golden Globes with a Wassailing, but I like to be different.

We had a toast. Ok it was a piece of toast soaked in cider and hanging from a tree, rather than the glass of bubbles my husband was no doubting using to toast a celebrity win. 

Wassailing Toast
Not quite the toast I had in mind

We had security that came in the form of a bucket of water to throw on the bonfire and some fencing (we powered off the electric one, although that could have added a spark!) to stop the children falling on the flames.

Plus we had our three course meal. Cider punch, bratwurst and Danish pastry. A combo worthy of a Michelin star or two I’m sure.

So perhaps next year I should combine the two celebrations and throw a Golden Wassail. Who is in??