Winter is a very special time to be in Cornwall, the UK’s most southerly county. Here you’ll find age-old traditions which have been kept alive for the modern day for a Christmas experience like no other.
Cornwall has a strong musical heritage, particularly in the old mining communities of Redruth and Camborne, and it is claimed that many well-know Christmas songs have their roots in Cornwall. When you next hear ‘God rest you merry, Gentlemen’ or ‘While shepherds watched their flocks’, perhaps your mind will drift to Cornwall where these and other festive numbers originated. Choose a Sykes Cottages’ holiday home and join in with the festivities in the local town; enjoy a cheering carol service before returning to a cosy cottage.
Montol, now in its sixth year in Penzance, is a revival of the traditional Christmas festivities in this part of the world. Montol, meaning Winter Solstice in the ancient Cornish language, begins in mid December and culminates with Montol Eve on 21st December. The week-long community festival sees young and old fashioning lanterns ready for the procession on Montol Eve. Lantern bearers are joined by the guise procession where masked participants dressed as the opposite sex to represent the Rivers of Fire. A person is then chosen to chalk the Mock, the Cornish equivalent of the Yule log, which signifies the death of the old year or the birth of Christ. Spend Montol in Penzance and enjoy an evening of traditional dance and music; you’ll soon want to get involved!
Get into the festive spirit
Staying in one of the self-catering cottages in Cornwall is a great way to sample a traditional Cornish Christmas. Brew up a batch of Swanky Beer in your own kitchen, a mix of beer, brown sugar, ginger and raisins which was traditionally served at Christmas. Another festive tradition is to enjoy a cold slice of Christmas pudding with sugar and clotted cream for breakfast on Christmas morning. Perhaps not the healthiest way to begin the day, but certainly a delicious way to get you in the Christmas spirit.
Tom Bawcock’s Eve
Although not strictly a Christmas celebration, Tom Bawcock’s Eve is celebrated in Mousehole on December 23rd. Legend has it that an awful storm kept the fishing boats in port for a number of days and the villagers risked starvation. A local man, Tom Bawcock, managed to take a boat during a temporary lull in the storm and catch enough fish to feed the village. Stargazey Pie was made in his honour, a mixture of eggs, fish and potato in a pastry case with protruding fish heads and is still eaten today. You’ll find the harbour lit up to celebrate the Eve and it really is something to be seen! Tuck into a slice of Stargazey Pie and enjoy the festivities.
However you choose to celebrate Christmas in Cornwall, have a very merry Nadelik.
Penryn Lights: http://www.flickr.com/photos/drewhound/329664434/
Christmas Pudding: http://www.flickr.com/photos/simonewalsh/4213234934/