What is Obby Oss?
May Day celebrations unlock the true meaning of this bank holiday.
Celebration...The people of Padstow come out in their traditional dress for the festivities.
WE all love a day off university or work, but do you know the meaning behind May Day? Probably not so here is a quick explanation and details of the strange things happening in the UK for May Day.
May Day started as a celebration of spring. And that would be the end of the story if it wasn't for Obby Oss Day. It is celebrated on the 1st or 2nd of May, depending if Sunday falls on the 1st of May or not. While the history of the day is difficult to pin-point, it is believed that original celebrations were a fertility festival as spring brought the world back to life after a barren winter. But in Padstow May Day is still Obby' Oss Day.
Padstow in Cornwall is known all around the world for the Obby Oss Day Festival which sees more than 30, 000 people cram into the tiny town. Obby Oss is local dialect for hobby horse and these horses are the focus of the festival. It may sound bizarre but it is a whole lot of fun.
Celebrations start at midnight with singing and continue well into the night. The town's streets are decorated with flags, flowers and greenery complete with a festive maypole. At 10am the blue Oss (horse) makes its first appearance from its stable, followed at 11am by the appearance of the red Odd (also a horse) from its home. Now it must be said that these are not real horses, simply people dressed up as horse-like creatures.
Locals wear white, with family loyalties dictating whether they follow the original Oss colour red, or the Oss colour blue. Both Oss' are similar in appearance and perform a dancing ritual to an old folk song.
Okay this all seems strange and ridiculous, but us Brits are known for our eccentricities and this is a great way to spend the bank holiday long-weekend.