Festivals. Who doesn’t love a festival? Growing up, festivals for us were less about finding ourselves in the wonder of nature, music and portaloos and more about bringing people together around a table of abundant food and drink. Growing up in a vicarage, it’s fair to say that our feasts were based mostly around Christian, Anglican celebrations. But, we think that the concept of sharing love, laughter, bread, wine and dreams around a theme and a specific time of year is something many of us are familiar with. With that in mind, here’s a shortlist of our favourite festivals that we have traditionally celebrated as a family and how they have found their way into our culture at Vicarage & Sons.
Behold, the Haggis. Despite the prevalence of reddy gingerness in our genes, we are not of Scottish descent – our mother insists it is a result of welsh heritage, which causes rugby supporting issues and is at odds with Andrew’s wife’s belief that we are all vikings. Whatever the Collingwood origin story, the fact is that Burns Night has always been a solid fixture in the feasts of the year. We love that wonderful sense of ritual around the celebration of “the Bard” Robbie Burns’ life with the addressing of the haggis and toasts of whiskey around the table, providing a wonderful excuse to share that experience with friends, old and new, Scottish, or not.
So, we love the Easter festival so much that Teresa dedicated a whole blog to it earlier in the year. As she so brilliantly described, it’s the build up to Easter day that makes this festival such a marvel with Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day), Lent, Holy Week, Good Friday and then the big one itself, Easter Day. To put a more secular spin on this festival, we have come to see our Easter Feast as a celebration of spring and the change of the season as the flavours and colours on our tables turn from the heartiness of winter into the vibrancy and lightness of spring. Lamb will forever be the mainstay of this particular feast, and in Amman, we have been learning from our butcher about the particular qualities of Jordanaian lamb as a result of the aromatic mountain grazing herbs and flowers that the animals love to chomp on. Ask your butcher about your meat the next time you pay them a visit.
Halloween and Guy Fawkes
True story, our mother made every effort to ignore halloween in our house when we were growing up as a result of what she saw as the hyper commercialisation of the pagan, and subsequently Christian feast day of “All Souls”. On the other hand, celebrating the attempted demolition of the British establishment by loading tonnes of dynamite in the bowels of the Houses of Parliament, masterminded by Guy Fawkes……..let’s have a party. For those of us in the UK, the great thing about these festivals is that they are a week apart, offering two weekends and everything in the middle as an excuse to reflect autumnal produce and flavours in our cooking and hosting. Cooking with fire doesn’t have to be only for summer barbecues and we love the opportunity to use the open fire to bring the char and spice of autumn into this time of year.
Fair enough. Zero points for unpredictability and innovation, but there cannot be any credible list of festivals and feasts without Christmas. In many ways, Christmas, the idea of sharing, celebrating and creating an inclusive, magical feast together as a family is what Vicarage & Sons is all about. If we could grind Love Actually down in a mortar and pestle into a fine mix of schmaltzy seasoning and sprinkle it on everything, we would, perhaps with a healthy dash of inclusivity to round off the flavour. At V&S, the Christmas events are the highlight of the year, hosting dinners in early / mid December for our community to celebrate together with us before the family commitments take over. We can’t wait to host events in London and Amman this year after a five year hiatus.
Ok, ok. If Christmas was too obvious, what on earth are birthdays doing on this list? Here’s the thing, everyone has a birthday. So in the spirit of ultimate inclusivity, we give you the feasting of birthdays to savour. There have been some pretty memorable birthday rituals for us – Mum insisting on doing a cartwheel on the beach during our yearly summer holidays in North Wales, Dom’s tradition of a march along the canals of East London, finishing in an extended session in the pub or Teresa’s 16th birthday in Chigwell, which was at such a scale that Andrew and his pals were employed to work the door, using their mandate to eject young scallywags from the party when one cocksure essex boy crossed a line. But the point here is that birthdays bring people together. As an example, Andrew first met Haya at her birthday celebration at a farm in Madaba and a partnership was born over perfectly seasoned zucchini (ask them about it in Amman). We firmly believe in the power of birthdays as a means to celebrate our values of Love, Laughter, Bread, Wine and Dreams, so always let us know when you are celebrating and come and join us at one of our events.