Exploring Cornish Christmas Traditions

Exploring Cornish Christmas Traditions

We've all got our Christmas traditions - leaving mince pies out for Santa, giving presents, carol services...But what are the older celebrations? We've been exploring Cornish Christmas traditions...

Montol Festival

Montol is celebrated in Penzance on the winter solstice, the 21st December. It is a revival of traditional Cornish midwinter customs. During the evening a Lord of Misrule is chosen to lead the revellers, there is dancing and music through the streets, a midwinter fire where the dying sun is burnt, a lantern parade and the famous Osses. It all culminates in a stick figure being drawn on a yule log and thrown on the fire as a symbol of the death of the old year and the birth of the new one.

Cornish Kissing Bush

Like many other traditions this one has it's roots in pagan celebrations. A ball of greenery is created by weaving mistletoe, holly and ivy together before being topped with an apple crown and a candle which which welcomes in the light.

Gin & Cake

Many years ago shop keepers would thank their patrons at Christmas for their custom by serving them with gin and cake after their purchase. You'll find this tradition still alive and well in many of the independent shops in Cornwall, particularly in Falmouth.

Lighting The Yule Log

The yule log (not the chocolate kind!) is brought into the house in great ceremony. It is carried in accompanied by song and then is given a toast before being lit using pieces of last years log as kindling. Its light at a time of deep winter celebrates the returning of the sun and its ash is used to fertilise the fields for the year ahead.

Tom Bawcock's Eve

Every year on 23rd December the village of Mousehole celebrates Tom Bawcock's Eve. It is centred around the tale of Tom Bawcock, who saved the village from famine by risking his life to fish in a winter storm. There are lantern parades through the streets, singing and Stargazy pie.