Obby ‘Oss Day

Padstow May Day

May Day or ‘Obby ‘Oss Day as it is is also known is the most popular day in Padstow’s calendar. This year it takes place on Monday 2nd of May (The 1st is a Sunday)

In this one day there is an estimated 30,000 visitors packed into Padstow!

What happens and where does the tradition come from

There are several conflicting stories behind the origins of the Obby Oss. Some say it’s roots come from pagan celebrations, a weather ritual, a fertility symbol, a defence to deter the French some centuries ago or even a simple welcome to summer. But even with the origins not being completely understood the event takes place generation after generation with the same passion.

The fearsome mask of today’s Obby Oss regalia is set into a body covering costume built around a six feet wide circular wooden hoop. This is carried on the wearer’s shoulders and covered in sailcloth that is draped down to the ground. Because it is heavy, internal shoulder straps enable the carrier to bear the strain more easily. The wearer then proceeds dancing through Padstow’s streets and accompanied by a Teazer. The Teazer leads the dance with theatrical movements and the use of the Teazer’s club (a leather pad colourfully painted and mounted on the end of a wooden rod.) The Teazer’s accompanying retinue are dressed in white their costumes decorated with ribbons and sprays of cowlips and bluebells. As the procession moves around the town dancers perform a traditional gyrating dance to the sound of the accompanying musicians and drummers. Last, but not least, are the followers, young and old who follow the procession every year and join in the singing of the traditional May Song.

Have you ever visited the May Day celebrations? Let Kerdene know your stories!

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