Images from the May Day 'Obby 'Oss celebrations in Padstow for 2006.

May Day started with a mix of weather, bright sunny but with the threat of rain on the horizon, and a couple of light showers. I went to Padstow, just a few miles from where I live on the North Cornish coast, where the annual May Day 'Obby 'Oss celebrations are held. The 'Obby 'Oss is thought to date back 4,000 years, a pagan festival to welcome Spring, although much of the current traditions are probably those which have grown up over the past few hundred years. At 10am the Blue Ribbon ‘Oss or Peace ‘Oss emerges from its ‘stable’ at the institute, called out by singers and dancers, and led by the ‘teaser’. Led by a band of accordions and drums the 'Oss dances along the streets led by the 'teaser' and followed by thousands of people. The 'Oss will often try to catch women and girls under it's 'skirt' as part of a fertility rite, and anyone caught is said to become pregnant within a year. I followed the Blue Ribbon 'Oss for a while, on it's slow journey along the streets, and then made my way to the Golden Lion Inn where at 11am the Old 'Oss emerged from it's 'stable'. I followed the Old 'Oss for maybe 2 hours up the streets of Padstow and out to Prideaux Place, then back into the town. The celebrations last from midnight to midnight, and by the time I left at 5pm the processions were still going round the town. In the end the weather was great, dry and sunny, and everyone was having a great time.

Here are two links to short video clips which convey something of the atmosphere created by the music and singing:

'Obby 'Oss 2006 Z14364

'Obby 'Oss 2006 Z14383

If you have problems with the links go to, scroll down and click on the last album which is Padstow, then scroll down to the last 2 items which are the video clips.

The same clips are available on Vimeo:

There is some good info on the 'Obby 'Oss celebrations and Padstow at Cornwall in focus.

The website for the Blue Ribbon 'Obby 'Oss has some historical info and other interesting stuff.


Padstow May Song

Unite and unite 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.

24 photos · 3,199 views