May Day in Cornwall Through The Eyes of The Padstow Obby Oss Celebration

So, Padstow, MayDay and the famous Obby Oss celebrations. . .

I have been very fortunate, many would say privileged, to have been to some wonderful events during my lifetime. I have seen brilliant gigs, the last one was Eric Clapton at Hyde Park, I have been to Cup Finals, watched England play at Wembley in front of 100,000 people and twice been lucky enough to watch the England cricket team in winning tests against Australia during a winning Ashes campaign, plus many other memorable events featuring world class performers.

But there is an event . . .a festival . . .a celebration, that is right up there with all of those and that is May Day in Padstow.

May Day in Padstow is one of the most vibrant, exhilerating and joyful events that I have ever witnessed or been part of.

It is a day when the entire community just becomes as one and celebrates as a community, all day and all night.

To quote Padstow's own website, . . .

"The first day of May is Obby Oss day in Padstow.* The origins of this traditional celebration are lost in the midst of time but it is thought to celebrate the arrival of Spring and may even be an ancient fertility festival.

* Unless May 1st falls on a Sunday in which case the Obby Oss celebrations take place on the Monday - May 2nd.

Inhabitants of Padstow (those born in the town) traditionally dress in white, with family loyalties dictating whether they follow the 'Red'/original Oss, or the 'Blue'/peace Oss.

Both Oss' are similar in appearance and perform a dancing ritual accompanied by an hypnotic folk song (unique to Padstow) around the town. Each Oss is lead by a group of followers as they make their way through the narrow streets and around the harbour.

The festivities start at 10am with the 'Blue' Oss making its first appearance from its stable, followed at 11am by the appearance of the 'Red' Oss from its home. Celebrations go on all day until the Oss' finally go to bed after 10pm."

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