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Padstow 'oss

May day

1st May

The 'Obby 'Oss, (local for padstow 'Obby 'Oss may Day celeebrationHobby Horse), is a traditional annual event on May day at Padstow, Cornwall.

The Cornish May day tradition is strongly linked to the Beltane celtic festival and celebrates the coming of Summer - "Summer Is Icumen In"
(a traditional English medieval round).

The 'Obby 'Oss is made of a wooden hoop (about 6 feet in diameter) covered to the ground with a black sailcloth and topped with a fearsome headmask and tail. The wearing of animal skins was believed to be a relic of a Pagan sacred marriage between earth and sky, and the dance enacts the fertility god sacrificed for the good of his people.

There are two 'Osses - the "Old" and the "Blue Ribbon" 'Osses.

The celebrations begin at midnight on May 1 with singing around the town. Padstow is dressed with greenery, flowers (especially bluebells and cowslips) and flags, with a be-decked and garlanded colourful maypole in the square.

Padstow maypole


Unite and unite and let us all unite,
For summer is acome unto day,
And whither we are going we will all unite,
In the merry morning of May.

Where are the young men thay here now should dance,
For summer is acome unto day,
Some they are in England and some they are in France
In the merry morning of May.

Where are the maidens that here now should sing
For summer is acome unto day,
They are in the meadows the flowers gathering,
In the merry morning of May.


At 10am the Blue Ribbon 'Oss emerges from the Institute to a great roar from the crowd, and later the Old 'Oss comes out of the Golden Lion Inn to an enthusiastic welcome from his followers. The locals are dressed in white and wear a red or blue ribbon and scarf according to which 'Oss they support.

The 'Osses journey around Padstow, accompanied by musicians with accordians and drums and their followers, in and out of the narrow streets, up and down the steep lanes, down to the harbour, through the church and manor house and meet at the maypole in the town's square.

May Day Padstow 'Obby 'Oss 2012 pics

May day Padstow old oss poster Blue ribbon obby oss band Best mayday hat 2012
Blue ribbon oss headquarters Maypole in Padstow blue oss comes out
Blue ribbon obby oss flags Padstow obby oss obby oss at harbour
teaser dances with obby oss obby oss head Padstow seagull
   
Old Obby Oss comes out Doom bar pirates May day 2012 Padstow
Obby oss mask Padstow harbour May day Padstow Doom bar pirate musicians
   
two osses dance round the maypole may day finale may day dance round maypole
red ribbon oss Padstow maypole  May day 2012 Blue ribbon oss band
Padstow pirates dancing obby oss two osses celebrate May day
Blue ribbon May day poster
obby oss takes a breather
obby oss cape
oss visits Padstow church May day evening Padstow farewell to obby oss

Now fare you well and bid you all good cheer
For summer is acome unto day
We call no more unto your house before another year
In the merry morning of May.


 

 

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