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Festivals


The Festival of the Torches

15th August - In Roman times this was Diana's chief festival, when lighted torches were placed in her sacred groves. Her other sacred day was the 'Feast of our Lady Queen of Heaven' on the 31st of May. Read More »

Frustrating the Fairies Day

4 May - Irish day for confusing the fairies so that they could not create any havoc.

Garland Dressing, Charlton On Otmoor

1st May - is Garland Dressing Day in Charlton On Otmoor.  A wooden cross is bedecked with Yew and Box leaves.

Gregorian Calendar Adopted

2 September - In 1751 the Gregorian Calendar was adopted in Britain, resulting in the loss of 11 days, compared to the old Julian calendar.

Guy Fawkes Night

Bonfire

5 November - Celebration to commemorate the saving of the Houses of Parliament from the Gunpowder Plotters in 1605. The festival was decreed by an act of parliament. It is celebrated with bonfires and fireworks and the traditional burning of a dummy called the Guy. The original plotters were hung, drawn and quartered in London. Read More »

Guy Fawkes Night Tar Barrels, Ottery St Mary

There is a tradition dating back to the 17th century in Ottery St Mary, where tar soaked barrels lighted and carried through the Devonshire town. Only those who are born and lived within the town are eligible to carry one of the seventeen barrels which begin their journey from outside the local pubs. Read More »

Halloween / Samhain

Pumpkin

31st October - The Samhain festival marked the end of summer and the beginning of winter in the Celtic calendar, and is one of the four Celtic fire festivals - the quarter points in the solar year. It marked the point in the year were a time of plenty gave way to more lean times, in all probability the reason for its association with dread and eeriness. Read More »

Harpham

The drumming well located near to the church is reputed to foretell death in the family of St Quentin. The folklore relates to a story about a fourteenth century drummer called Tom Hewson, who was accidentally knocked down the well by a St Quentin squire. Read More »

The Helston Flurry Dance

8th May - The Helston Flurry Dance takes place, where Helstonians take part in a pagan ritual processional dance through the town in a custom that pre-dates Christianity and probably dates back to Celtic times. The dance takes place each eighth of May unless it falls on a Sunday or Monday and was probably originally a fertility or Spring festival. Read More »

Hocktide

7th May - Hocktide which was a medieval English festival was generally celebrated on the second Tuesday after Easter.  The men of the village would tie up the women and demand a kiss for their release.  The following day thewomen would tie up the men and demand money for their release which would go to Parish funds.  It is suggested that it celebrates the massacre of the Danes in the 11t Read More »

Holy Innocent's Day

28 December - Holy Innocent's Day is said to be the unluckiest day of the year.

Jedburgh Ba' Game

2nd February - The annual street ball game in Jedburgh, it said to have originally been played with the severed heads of border raiders.

Lammas / Lugnasadh

1 August - Celtic festival of Lugh, the god of light. Celebration of the early harvest, when loaves were baked and sometimes distributed from churches. Lammas is derived from Loaf Mass.

Martinmas

11 November - The feast of St Martin of Tours, a Roman soldier who became famous as a bishop. It marked the onset of winter time proper.

Marymass

3rd or 4th Monday in August - Once said to have been celebrated with hilltop fires, the festival is now associated with Mary Queen of Scots. A Queen is voted from the local Irvine girls and a parade goes through the town along with other events.

May Day

1st May - The old Pagan fertility festival of Beltane, the day used to be celebrated in nearly every village green with may pole dancing. The custom has rapidly died out and many of the old village greens have been reclaimed. The festival was also celebrated with hilltop fires.

Michael Mass, St Michael's Day

29 September - One of the quarter days, and a celebration of the Archangel Michael.

Midsummer's Day

Stonehenge at Sunrise

The festival is primarily a Celtic fire festival, representing the middle of summer, and the shortening of the days on their gradual march to winter. Midsummer is traditionally celebrated on either the 23rd or 24th of June, although the longest day actually falls on the 21st of June. Read More »

Milk Of The Virgin Mary

11 October - In the past on this day supposed relics of the Milk of Mary were venerated in abbeys across England.  These were phials containing a drop of breast milk from the Virgin Mary.

Minehead

Minehead

Minehead is the scene of the Obby Oss Festival April 30th, May 1st -3rd. The oss or horse is a covered wooden frame with a painted head at the centre bedecked with ribbons. The Oss meets the rising sun early on the 1st of May. In some stories this festival is said to date to a time when the local people scared away Norse invaders by disguising their ship as a sea serpent. Read More »

New Books Published on Fairies and Boggles in Cumbria

A SERIES of hand-crafted booklets on the folklore and legends of Cumbria has been published. Read More »

Newark Penny Loaf Day

Penny Loaf Day in Newark-on-Trent dates back to the English Civil War (1642–1651) and a local man named Hercules Clay, who lived in Market Place (next to the Town Hall). Read More »

Offering To Tellus

15th April - Roman offering to Tellus, a version of the earth mother. Usually an unborn calf was burned to protect their farms.

Padstow Hobby Horse (Oss)

1st May - The festival starts at midnight in the early hours of Mayday. The actual Hobby Horse is a hoop covered with black material with an African mask, and a horses head with snapping jaws. A man stands inside the hoop and the procession parades around the town. The festival has ancient origins. Read More »

Pixie Day, Ottery St Mary

The nearest Saturday to Midsummer's Day is Pixie Day in Ottery St Mary, where school children dressed as Pixies re-enact a legendary tale in which the local fairies tried to silence the church bells before retreating to their cave for another year. Read More »



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