The Feast Tradition
Feast Sunday has traditionally been on the Sunday before 11 October – ‘old’ Michaelmas Day, before the change in the calendar in the 18th century. This was the date when annual lettings and contracts of employment were renewed. Those who worked away from the village on farms in East Anglia or in shops and houses in Cambridge or other towns and cities came home for the weekend. It was a weekend of celebration and thanksgiving when people wore their best clothes and visited friends and neighbours before the start of another year. For the older residents Feast weekend is not what it was, but if you read the comment of Enid Porter, in Cambridgeshire Customs and Folklore, you will probably conclude that it never has been. She wrote: ‘Willingham Feast was already declining in the last years of the nineteenth century’.
The Feast had declined even more by the time the Parish Plan was produced with the few consistent events being the presence of the Salvation Army Band on the Green and the Joint Church Service on Feast Sunday. WAG, in response to the call for more social activities in the village, decided to introduce a lot more activities.
The Feast Now
The increase in events put a strain on WAG resources and so we looked to other groups in the village for help. Each year there are between 14 and 20 events ranging from family discos and treasure hunts to wine tasting quizzes and comedy nights. We have our friends at Willingham Youth Trust, Willingham School Association, Willingham Social Club and many more to thank for that. WAG now has the role of organising a few events but coordinating and advertising them all.