The inaugural Histon and Impington Community Orchard Project wassailing event took place on possibly the wettest, stormiest evening of the year to that point – the 31st January.
Preparations had been underway, especially in the schools, since the start of term. Beautiful lanterns had been created, and songs and recorder tunes learned, so it would have been unthinkable to have cancelled our plans. Joy Walker, Head of the Infant School, very kindly allowed us to use the hall there for our gathering which included final rehearsals and refreshments. A whole table full of mainly apple-themed cakes had been baked and there was apple juice and cider for the adults as well.
When the ceremonial moment arrived, wellies and raincoats were donned and we moved outside to formally address the school’s “Chiver’s Delight” by the main entrance:
“Here’s to thee, dear apple tree,
Whence thou may bud and whence thou may bear,
Hats full, caps full,
Bushel, bushel sacks full
And my pockets full too!
In the time- honoured fashion, a great noise was then created with saucepans, wooden spoons and anything else we had to hand. The idea of this, apparently, is to wake up the trees to ensure they are ready to produce a good crop in the coming summer. As all of our actual orchard trees are a good half a mile from the school we had to make our noise particularly loudly! We will see, in the fullness of time, if wassailing bears fruit (literally). However we already know that it’s most enjoyable for all concerned and it’s quite likely that we will continue to make up our own HICOP wassailing tradition some time around Christmas next year.