On April 23, the English celebrated their patron saint, St. George, Christian nobleman and alleged dragon slayer. And on that same day, Worcestershire kicked off its annual Asparagus Festival. To honor the occasion, the crop was blessed in Worcester Cathedral with much fanfare.
According to Atlas Obscura, the ceremony included a solemn, if peculiar procession. Behind a member of the clergy walked a man in suit and tie holding a bundle of asparagus. Then, Gus the Asparagus—a man costumed as the vegetable who serves as the festival’s mascot—followed. A fourth gentleman dressed at St. George brought up the rear.
Once at the front of the church, the cathedral’s Precentor issued a blessing in honor of the crop.
Check out Gus, that pious asparagus stalk, bowing his leafy head in devotion.
As it happens, not everyone was down with this aspara-centric service. Said the leader of one lobbyist group, “This is an absurd pantomime-type scene that makes a mockery of Christian worship.” Using outlandish slippery slope logic, a widely-read religious blogger suggested that only madness could follow such blasphemy:
“England might be a major producer of asparagus, and the Vale of Evesham might be hosting the world famous Asparagus Festival, but where exactly does this stop? Would the Church of England permit a man dressed up as a baked bean to process behind a Heinz tin of the things, and sanctify the mummery with a facade of thanksgiving? And why only adoration of asparagus? Where’s the sprout liturgy, or equality for mushrooms? Would the Dean really permit a walking fungus to participate in an act of divine worship?”
Steady there, pal. I dare say Gus the Asparagus does not herald the end of days. (In fact, I love Gus. Cheers to you, my fine verdant fellow!)
By the way, should you care to read more about Saint George, you can do that here. And if you’d like to hop across the pond to attend the 2017 Asparagus Festival, here is their official website. May Gus bless you and keep you.