Sep 16, 2008

'Obby 'Oss

Those two videos made me interested in finding more out about that celebration. It is the Cornish (specifically the village of Padstow) version of Beltaine, a time to celebrate fertility and the god Belenus, which is celebrated on May 1st.

'Obby 'Oss is local dialect for "Hobby Horse".

The hobby horse is said by Dr E. C. Cawte to be a custom of Germanic or Scandinavian origin, which seems very likely considering the importance of the horse in these ancient cultures. And it has been theorised that the roots of the hobby horse is rooted in traditions such as hoodening, a custom which involved people dressing up in animal skins and carrying the heads of animals. The custom of the hobby horse has been compared to similar customs found in Scandinavia, one of these being the julebukk, meaning Yule-goat.
From: Anglo Saxon Heathenism

The festival begins at midnight on the first of May with a capella singing through the town starting at the Golden Lion Inn. By the time morning arrives, the town has been dressed with greenery, flowers and flags, and of course a May Pole.

Two groups of dancers then parade through the town, one of each group wearing a stylized recreation of a 'horse.' The two horses (or 'osses) are known as the "Old" and the "Blue Ribbon" 'osses. During the day a number of "Junior" 'osses appear, operated by children. The groups are accompanied by drums and accordions which are being lead by acolytes known as "Teasers". Each 'oss is adorned by a gruesome mask and black frame-hung cape under which they try to catch young maidens as they pass through the town.

The Blue ribbon 'oss is a more recent creation from the late 19th century. It was created by members of the Temperance movement. Trying to discourage the consumption of alcohol that was associated with the "old" 'oss followers, they introduced the Blue Ribbon 'Osses. After the first world war the Temperance movement was disbanded, and the Blue Ribbon 'Oss became known as the Peace 'Oss.


The sign at the pub that acts as the "stable" for the Blue Ribbon 'Oss.


The sign of the pub that acts as the stable for the "Old 'Oss".

In the middle of the day the two separate groups unite to dance around the May Pole. They then retire to their "stables" (the pubs from which they originate) in the evening.

Here's a video of the 'Obby 'Oss in Padstow in 2006:

Night Song
(unaccompanied)
Unite and unite and 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.

I warn you young men everyone
For summer is acome unto day,
To go to the green-wood and fetch your May home
In the merry morning of May.

Arise up Mr. ---- and joy you betide
For summer is acome unto day,
And bright is your bride that lies by your side,
In the merry morning of May.

Arise up Mrs. ---- and gold be your ring,
For summer is acome unto day,
And give to us a cup of ale the merrier we shall sing,
In the merry morning of May.

Arise up Miss ---- all in your gown of green
For summer is acome unto day,
You are as fine a lady as wait upon the Queen,
In the merry morning of May.

Now fare you well, and we bid you all good cheer,
For summer is acome unto day,
We call once more unto your house before another year,
In the merry morning of May.

Day Song

Unite and unite and 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.

Arise up Mr. ---- I know you well afine,
For summer is acome unto day,
You have a shilling in your purse and I wish it was in mine
In the merry morning of May.

All out of your beds,
For summer is acome unto day,
Your chamber shall be strewed with the white rose and the red,
In the merry morning of May.

Where are the young men that here now should dance,
For summer is acome unto day,
Some they are in England and some they are in France
In the merry morning of May.

Where are the maidens that here now should sing
For summer is acome unto day,
They are in the meadows the flowers gathering,
In the merry morning of May.

Arise up Mr. ---- with your sword by your side,
For summer is acome unto day,
Your steed is in the stable awaiting for to ride
In the merry morning of May.

Arise up Miss ---- and strew all your flowers,
For summer is acome unto day,
It is but a while ago since we have strewed ours
In the merry morning of May.

O! where is St. George,
O, where is he O?
He is out in his long-boat all on the salt sea O.
Up flies the kite and down falls the lark O,
Aunt Ursula Birdhood she had an old ewe
And she died in her own Park O.

With the merry ring, adieu the merry spring,
For summer is acome unto day,
How happy is the little bird that merrily doth sing
In the merry morning of May.

The young men of Padstow might if they would,
For summer is acome unto day,
They might have built a ship and gilded her with gold
In the merry morning of May.

The young women of Padstow might if they would,
For summer is acome unto day,
They might have made a garland with the white rose and the red,
In the merry morning of May.

Arise up Mr. ---- and reach me your hand,
For summer is acome unto day,
And you shall have a lively lass with a thousand pounds in hand
In the merry morning of May.

Arise up Miss ---- all in your cloak of silk,
For summer is acome unto day,
And all your body under as white as any milk,
In the merry morning of May.

O! where is St. George,
O, where is he O?
He is out in his long-boat all on the salt sea O.
Up flies the kite and down falls the lark O,
Aunt Ursula Birdhood she had an old ewe
And she died in her own Park O.

With the merry ring, adieu the merry spring,
For summer is acome unto day,
How happy is the little bird that merrily doth sing
In the merry morning of May.

Now fare you well and bid you all good cheer,
For summer is acome unto day,
We call no more unto your house before another year
In the merry morning of May.

Farewell

Farewell farewell my own true love
Farewell farewell my own true love

How can I bear to leave you
One parting kiss I'll give you
I'll go what 'ere befalls me
I'll go where duty calls me

Farewell farewell my own true love
Farewell farewell my own true love

No more will I behold thee
Nor in my arms enfold thee
With spear and penant glancing
I see the foe advancing

Farewell farewell my own true love
Farewell farewell my own true love

I think of thee with longing
Think though while tears are thronging
That with my last faint sighing
I whispered soft whilst dying

Farewell farewell my own true love
Farewell farewell my own true love





Resources:
http://www.youtube.com
http://home.freeuk.net/bribbonobbyoss/
http://www.wikipedia.org
http://homepages.tesco.net/~k.wasley/obbyoss.htm
http://www.england-in-particular.info/horse/h-obby1.html

1 comment:

Mittsie said...

hey, its nothing new to have cops in front of our building - there's usually two or three cop cars in front of our building (& cops in our building) weekly ... either because someone committed suicide or a drug bust went down. we just rarely make the papers! lol.

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