The History of the 'Obby 'Oss
There has been so many conflicting theories. It has been described as being of pagan origin, a rain maker, fertility symbol, a deterrent to a possible landing by the French some centuries ago, and simply a welcome to summer which, given the passage of time has been altered and added to by successive generations. What we do know is that it has always been depicted as a man dressed in a form of costume and being the main part of a processional ceremony.
The present "Obby Oss" regalia is a fearsome head mask let into a body covering costume comprising a circular wooden hoop of about six feet in diameter, this being carried on the shoulders and covered in sailcloth which is draped down nearly to the ground. Because of the weight, internal shoulder straps are provided to enable the carrier to ease the strain and perform his task.
He processes through the streets of the town, swirling and dancing accompanied by a Teazer who leads the dance with theatrical movements and use of the Teazer's Club, a black leather pad, colourfully painted, mounted on the end of a wooden rod. He is accompanied by his retinue. They are dressed in white with added ribbons and sprays of cowslips and bluebells. There are the musicians and drummers. There are the dancers who perform a traditional girating dance. Last, but not least, there are the followers, young and old, who every year process and join in the singing of the "May Song".
May Day takes place on May 1st, (or May 2nd if 1st fall on a Sunday).
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