The Cornish are known for many things; their love of pasties, their dedicated patriotism, their ability to drink Rattler… the list goes on. Also well known within the Kern are our special Cornish festivities and celebrations that have survived generations. How many of these have you celebrated?
Held every year on the 1st of May, Padstonians have celebrated this traditional festivity for centuries. 2 men will dress up as the ‘Oss’ (Cornish for horse) and dance around the town for the entire day – followed by a precession of ‘teasers’ (dancers dressed in white, armed with bells and ribbons) and a perfectly practiced band made up of accordions, drums, tambourines and more.
The event takes place throughout the streets of Padstow, winds through the numerous pubs and meets in the centre by the glorious May Pole, a beautifully decorated spectacle – colourful ribbons caught in the wind and Spring flowers draped from everything.
The exact origins of the festival are unknown, but it is thought to be connected with the ancient Celtic festival Beltane – a celebration to welcome the coming of Spring.
The entire festival is always a stunning day, enjoyed by Padstonians, Cornish folk and tourists alike, and is a day dedicated to music, dancing and gallons of beer. Oss oss to that!!
The Cornish market town of Helston has hosted the wonderful tradition of Flora Day for hundreds of years. The day is traditionally held on the 8th of May and signifies the coming of Spring and dispersing of the dark Winter months. The town is decorated with greenery and fresh flowers and the beating of the drums can be heard from 7 in the morning!
The day is made up of 5 dances, from the early hours until the early evening. Everyone dresses up for the occasion, men in top hats and women in evening gowns, taking to the streets of Helston to celebrate a day steeped in tradition. Even the youngest of children take part in the dance, dressed in white with flowers in their hair – often there is over 1000 of them parading down the road!
If you want to take part in the Ancient Furry Dance you must be born and bred in Helston and also invited to participate! Do you fit the bill?
St. Piran’s Day
Held on the 5th of March every year, Gool Peran is named after Saint Piran, one of the patron saints of Cornwall and the patron saint of tin miners. He was a priest in the west of Ireland, but had an argument with the kind and was thrown from the cliffs with a granite millstone tied around his neck! He managed to wash up on the shores of Perranporth, where upon, legend has it, he began his travels around Cornwall and lived until the age of 200!
Individual events are held throughout the county, all the way from deep west Redruth to picturesque Looe. Festivities range from surf comps to processions to cake sales – all to the sound track of the ‘Cornish National Anthem’, Trelawny’s Army.
Golowan Festival, or Mazey Day, takes place on Saturday 29th June in Penzance. It’s a celebration of midsummer and is launched each year by the Mayor of Penzance. The sound of violins, trumpets and drums fill the air as a procession of Cornish men and women, dressed in white, meander the streets.
Each year, during the days prior to Mazey Day you will find Penzance under much preparation for the event and on Mazey Eve you’ll witness a spectacular firework display.
The streets are filled with thousands of people, a bustling market is set up on Market Jew Street and spirits are high. For a true, traditionally Cornish experience, Mazey Day is unmissable.
Cornwall is steeped in tradition, and we can’t help but embrace it. Why not join in the festivities and experience a taste of Cornish patriarchy at its finest – with a pint in hand!