Padstow May Day

Apr 25th, 2017 | By | Category: Articles, Books for Pagans

turningWondering what to do for May Day? Here’s an excerpt from Kevan Manwaring’s Turning The Wheel…

There is no better place to be in England on May Day than Padstow in North Cornwall, where every May 1st for many years (no one knows exactly how long it has been celebrated here, but it is probably a couple of centuries at the least) visitors are greeted with a spectacle both exotic and quintessentially English – locals dressed all in white, and either red or blue neckerchiefs and sashes, proceed through the streets following what is called either the Old Oss (red) or the Peace Oss (blue): an alarming dancer wearing a round black skirt of waterproof material (like an alien sou’ wester, or a cake on legs). This is topped by a black pointed head-dress decorated in an African style, and the dancers wheel and jig through the packed crowds, lured on by a ‘teaser’, usually a nubile local girl wielding a phallic ‘bladder-stick’, accompanied by a hypnotic drum-beat, accordions, whistles and singing. The atmosphere is at the very least merry; although, at times, it becomes wildly un-British, something you might see in a Mediterranean religious street festival or in say India. Such unrestrained exuberance is uncommon in a small English village, and that makes it all the more special. The narrow streets of the small fishing village are festooned with foliage and flags. There’s a fun fair and the pubs do a roaring trade. Thousands of visitors descend, causing the tiny village to gridlock. Yet, the ambience remains pleasant. After the winter, especially a hard one like we’ve had this year, there’s a palpable sense of ‘easing off’ as we
celebrate the start of the summer. The silly season starts here!

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