June 2012 at Pencoose Farm, Stithians PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF DATEThe 2012 celebration will once again be held at Pencoose Farm, Stithians, by kind permission of Mr. Paul Gluyas who runs the 780 acre farm which has been in the family since the 1850’s, and dates from the 13th century. Pencoose (Cornish – Pen cos) means “End of the Wood”. In 1278 it was called Broncoys, in 1561 Burncoys and in 1884 Burncoose before taking its present name of Pencoose.The ceremony will start at approximately 9.30 p.m. but most people start to arrive at about 8 p.m. when there will be pasties & soft drinks etc. available. Below you can view a film of the 2007 ceremony by double clicking the film.
Midsummer’s Eve Bonfire As daylight fades from the sky on Midsummer Eve and the deep shades of dusk settle over the Cornish countryside, bright yellow points of light may suddenly be seen to blaze forth from a number of hilltops scattered throughout the length and breadth of the county. These beacons comprise the chain of midsummer bonfires organised and lit each year by the Old Cornwall movement through the agency of its individual local societies and carried out in accordance with a very ancient custom. The practice of celebrating Midsummer Eve in such a fashion goes back to pagan times and by observing such practices a bond is formed between Cornish people of the present age and our distant Celtic forbears.As a heathen festival, there can be no question but that these fires owe their origin to a form of sun worship and it is believed that at one time the ceremonies included burnt offerings sacrificed on Cornish hilltop altars. The fires held on Midsummer Eve would have celebrated the splendour of high summer, with the sun at the peak of its power and glory in the heavens, and promising ripeness to the maturing fruits and grain. They were supposed to bring a blessing on the crops; and animals, such as rabbits and pigs and sometimes criminals were sacrificed in the flames.Later, the Church found itself faced with the alternatives of either suppressing these fires, or of adopting and adapting them for its own purposes. It generally chose the latter course and so the fires were allowed to continue, though they were now lit to celebrate the Eve of St. John. However, some of the old pagan features were still maintained, but in a disguised form, thus instead of having a human or animal sacrifice a wreath of symbolic herbs was cast into the fire.The Midsummer fires continued for centuries from hilltops throughout Britain, but with the passage of time the fires died out over most of the country and were then confined to remote areas in the western part of Cornwall where it survived until the last quarter of the 19th century.The first Old Cornwall Society was formed at St. Ives in 1920 and it was there that the ceremonies were revived in 1929 and the celebrations spread to other Societies throughout the county.The ceremony in Cornish and its translation into English, now consists of:
-A prayer for the benediction of the Midsummer Fire
Instructions by the Master of Ceremonies
Casting of the flowers by the Lady of the Flowers
Lighting of the fireThe flowers or herbs bound with coloured ribbons, are good and bad:
-The good ones representing plants of known medicinal value.
The bad ones – obnoxious weeds etc.The colours of the ribbons are symbolical:
-White – strength;
Green – knowledge or wisdom;
Blue – love;Red – sacrifice;
Yellow – the sun.
Ron Opie, President of The Federation of Old Corwall Societies
Prayer for the Benediction
Pysadow Rak Benyga Tansys GolowanA Arluth Jesu Cryst, an Golow Gwyr, Nep usy ow colowymyns den a-dheffo aberth y’n bys-ma. Gwra benyega an Tansys-ma y’gan lowender a-vynnyn ynno gorra tan ragenora Genesygeth Sen Jowan an Brysydher. Ha gront dhyn,ha ny dre dhas ras golowys ha dyworth dha gerensa gans tanmay hyllyn dos dhyso, Nep a-ve kens-dervyvys gans an Ragresor sans-na avel Sylwyas an Bys, hag us trygys hakesregnyes gans an Tas a nef yn unsys an Spyrys Sans, prestun Dew, trank hep worfen. AMENGeryow an SolempnytaHerwyth usadow agan hendasow yn termynyow kens,Ny ow cul aganTansys Golowan, hanneth yu cres an Haf.Tan y’n cunysLemmyn gor uskys,May tewo an TansysY’n Hanow Dew!Arlodhes an BlejyowOtta kelmys yn-kemyskysBlejyow, may fons-y cowl leskys,Ha’n da, ha’n drok.Re dartho an da myl egyn,Glan re bo dyswres pup dregyn,Yn tan, yn mok!Towl lemmyn an BlejyowTan yn cunysGorraf desempys,Re slanno an tansysDres lys plu!
of the Midsummer
BonfireLord Jesus Christ, the True Light, Who dost enlighten everyman that cometh into the world, do Thow bless this bonfirewhich in our gladness we light to honour the nativity of SaintJohn the Baptist and grant to us, being lighted to Thy grace,and fired with Thy love, that we may come to Thee, Whom that Holy forerunner did announce beforehand as the Saviourof the world. Who livest and reignest with the Father inHeaven in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, worldwithout end. AMEN (M.C.) – According to the custom of our forefathers in daysof old – behold us making our midsummer bonfire, this night in the middle of summer. Now set the pyreAt once on fireLet flame aspire – in God’s High Name. (Lady of the Flowers) – In one bunch together boundFlowers for burning here are foundBoth good and ill.Thousand fold let good seed spring,Wicked weeds, fast withering,Let this fire kill. (M.C.) –Now cast the flowers!(Lighter of the fire) – I set the pyreAt once on fire,Let flame aspireOver many a parish!