Text and photos all ©Chris Wormald 2014 and can be used after a fee has been paid.
Helston Flora Day has come around again.
Wonder of wonders! I was in Cornwall, my favourite place in the world, just in time to go to Flora Day.
Helston and its people wait for May the 8th every year. The town’s feast day of St. Michael is celebrated by a Christianised version of an ancient Pagan Beltain festival to mark the beginning of summer. The towns-people dance from early morning until early evening and follow an established route through the town and sometimes through the houses! Though now it’s a lot tamer.
The locals dance in the early morning with few onlookers, the children dressed in white (washing machines have been busy on hot wash) dance mid-morning, and very nice they look, whilst their parents and grandparents look on, eyes filled with love.
At mid-day the posh people come out to dance wearing their best clothes, in imitation of the gentry who once danced from their Grand Ball at the Angel Hotel down the street to show off to the workers who lined the street to watch. It is more egalitarian now, but the morning suits and dresses still are a sight to be seen.
The route takes in the lovely private gardens of Lismore House, owned by Michael Jay, who welcomes the public in once a year, to watch the dancers dance around the lake and hear 2 bands playing the well known tune, which if memory serves me well was a “hit” once upon a time and got placed in the top ten!
On the day before Flora Day (Furry Dance), the townsfolk, shopkeepers, office workers and people who own property along the route, decorate their windows and doorways with spring greenery and flowers. It is a great sight to see with everyone in a good mood, being creative, co-operative and busy, decorating their lovely Cornish Granite town.
Traditionally there has always been a fair on the day at the bottom of town. In the past it must have been a great sight, but now it seems to consist of expensive tat, foul meaty burger smells and noise. Such is the world that we have created – (We can change it if we try!).
But the DANCING is the thing and the tune that stays in your head for ages – and the smiles of the dancers, both adult and children.