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The Stations of the SunA History of the Ritual Year in Britain$
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Ronald Hutton

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205708

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205708.001.0001

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Hobby-Horse and Horn Dance

Hobby-Horse and Horn Dance

(p.81) 8 Hobby-Horse and Horn Dance
The Stations of the Sun

Ronald Hutton

Oxford University Press

Every May Day, two hobby-horses dance their way through the Cornish coastal town of Padstow, representing different halves of the community. For 12 hours they move around separate circuits, each led on by a ‘Teaser’, a person in white prancing in front with a painted club. Each also has a retinue of people, also in white clothes, some playing accordions and drums. The tradition represents a tremendous reaffirmation of community pride and solidarity in this small and normally quiet settlement; nobody is allowed to take part in either procession unless their family has lived there for at least two generations. It is also a major attraction for visitors, and one of the most famous and most dramatic folk customs of modern Britain. In 1931 it attracted Mary Macleod Banks, soon to be the President of the Folk-Lore Society, who took it upon herself to upbraid the ‘Teaser’ for dressing as a clown and so ‘spoiling the rite’.

Keywords:   hobby-horses, dance, Padstow, Teaser, tradition, community, procession, customs, Britain, Mary Macleod Banks

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