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Padstow May Day

May Day (or 'Obby 'Oss Day as it is known outside of Padstow) is the biggest day in Padstow's calendar.  It is not unusual to see 30,000 people crammed into our little town.  It is a day when Padstonians from all over the world return to their roots.

The following B&B accommodation  and self catering accommodation have indicated that they have vacancies for May Day 2014.

History of May Day

There have been many conflicting theories about the origins of the Obby Oss. Some say its roots are in pagan times, others that it's a rain maker, a fertility symbol, a deterrent to a possible landing by the French some centuries ago or even a welcome to summer. Whatever, the mists of time and the helping hand of successive generations of Padstonians have blunted the true reasons for its creation. 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 through Padstow's streets, swirling and dancing and accompanied by a Teazer, who 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.

Tourist Information Advice

  • May Day takes place annually on 1st May (2nd May if the 1st falls on a Sunday).

  • Accommodation is a premium over May Day.  Many people book the same accommodation from one year to the next and it is common for accommodation to be booked for up to a year in advance.  Our advice is to book early.

  • It is very unlikely that you will be able to book for one night only.  Most accommodation will require a minimum of 2 nights.

  • Accommodation providers keep us updated of any cancellations.  Please use our accommodation booking service if you are struggling to find somewhere.

  • Alternatively you could consider staying in Newquay or Bodmin and catching the bus to Padstow.

  • Do not bring your car into the old part of Padstow on May Day.  Please use the car parks or park and ride.

  • When May Day falls at a weekend the town is extremely busy.  It is not a comfortable environment for pushchairs, dogs or wheelchairs.

  • If you are in a wheelchair you are advised to find a spot en route and wait for the procession to come past.  Once the procession leaves the old town the congestion is eased and you will get a better view without being crushed.  Please contact us for more information and for information on disabled car parking.

Photos on this page ©Barry McCann

May Song

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.

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

.

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