midsummer

Summer Solstice-The Cornish Midsummer's
Eve Bonfire Celebrations
Kithill, Cornwall, England


summer solstice-midsummer

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kit-hill As the last glimmers of the setting sun strike the heather and gorse of the now still Cornish Moors, orange glimmers of light flicker; fire beacons blaze forth from hilltops stretching the length of Cornwall from Lands End in the far South West across the Moors to Kit hill on the Cornwall Devon border.

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These bonfires are a celebration of the Summer, with the sun at strongest, and are lit the night after the Summer Solstice.

Though no one is really sure they are believed to be pagan in origin.

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The ceremony itself is spoken in Cornish, it climaxes with the Lady of the Flowers casting into the now roaring flames a garland, comprising herbs, both good herbs, those believed to have medicinal qualities, along with bad herbs, those that are poisonous, also oak, rowan and foxglove. Held on the 23rd June. Festivals in Cornwall

Bonfire Kithill fire-festival.jpg garland

The Ceremony in Cornish

GERYOW AN SOLEMPNYTA
ORDENARY:
Herwyth usadow agan
hendasow yn termynyow kens,
Awotta ny ow cul agan Tansys Golowan,
haneth yn cres an Haf.
Tan y'n cunys
Lemmyn gor uskys,
May tewo an Tansys
Yn Hanow Dew!

ARLODHES AN BLEJYOW:
Otta kelmys yn-kemyskys
Blejyow, 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!
ORDENARY: Towl lemmyn an blejyow!

TRANSLATION
WORDS OF THE CEREMONY
MASTER OF CEREMONIES:

According to the custom of our
forefathers in days of old,
Behold us making our Midsummer Bonfire,
this night in the middle of Summer

Now set the pyre
At once on fire,
Let flame aspire
In God's high Name!

LADY OF THE FLOWERS:
In one bunch together bound
Flowers for burning here are found
Both good and ill.
Thousandfold let good seed spring
Wicked weeds, fast withering,
Let this fire kill!

MASTER OF CEREMONIES:
Now Cast the flowers!

Text Courtesy Federation of Old Cornwall Societies

This page is part of our Cornish Customs Section.

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