Porthcothan Mill Cottage

Padstow 'Obby 'Oss festival - May bank holiday

The Padstow 'Obby 'Oss is an ancient festival believed to be one of the oldest surviving festivals in the UK. It always takes place on May day, the first Monday of May. The event attracts thousands of people every year.

The 'Obby 'Oss festival involves two wooden hobby horses, known as 'osses', being paraded through the streets in a celebration believed to be linked to the ancient Celtic festival of Beltane - the Gaelic May day festival, commonly observed on the first of May, the festival falls midway between the spring equinox and summer solstice. The festival name is synonymous with the month marking the start of summer.

The streets of Padstow are decorated with flowers, flags and greenery, including a giant and colourful maypole.Thousands of people line the streets to see the 'osses parade, accompanied by traditional music provided by drums and an accordion, as well as costumed dancers in white with red and blue sashes, and a number of junior 'osses operated by children. The two main 'osses are black framed costumes - one with a red ribbon and the other with a blue ribbon and pretend to try to catch maidens as they pass through the narrow streets. The two separate processions make their way around Padstow, and each one is believed to represent a different half of the town's community and are led by an individual known as the Teaser, who is dressed in white and carries a painted club.

The extraordinary dance continues all day long until, at midnight, the townsfolk join together to sing Padstow's unique 'May Song'.

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