The May Day Padstow ’Obby ‘Oss procession is the oldest of its kind in the country, possibly dating back thousands of years.
There are two Osses, one red and the other blue. The followers dress in white with either blue or red scarves and ribbons depending which Obby Oss they follow. The Red Oss, or Old Oss, is the original. The Blue Oss was introduced in the 19th century and has links with the The Temperance Movement and the Great War, after which it became known as the Peace Oss.
On the day, Padstow is decked in flags and greenery, and the Maypole in garlands. The coming of the Obby Oss is marked at midnight when the crowd gathers around the Golden Lion pub, home of the Old Oss and sings the Morning song “Unite and unite, and let us all unite.”
The Blue Oss appears from its stable in the Market Institute at 10am. The Master of Ceremonies, dressed in top hat and tails, emerges followed by the Oss’s followers who cry “Oss, Oss!”, the crowd replying “Wee Oss”, before the Blue Oss and its Teaser erupt from the stable. The Followers perform the May song with drums and accordions, as the drama between the Oss and its Teaser are played out. At 11am, the Red Oss emerges from the Golden Lion, following the same ritual. Both make their separate way through the town with no definite set route.
The rivalry between two Osses is friendly and they avoid one other until early evening, before meeting and dancing around the Maypole. At 9.30 the Peace Oss returns to its stable, not to be seen for another year. The Old Oss does the same an hour later. At the end of the day, the Oss is ritually done to death, marking the passing of the old year.
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