Unusual Cornish Christmas Traditions

Christmas in Cornwall is magical and an experience like none other. Cornwall holds a certain charm that attracts visitors who know how wonderful Cornish Christmas traditions can be. It is no surprise that Cornwall is known for its traditional celebrations and festivals. Here are our favourite unusual Cornish Christmas traditions.

Christmas Day Swim in Cornwall

Christmas day swim is a popular Cornish Christmas tradition. It takes place in coastal communities countrywide. The swims are on Christmas and Boxing Day. Whole communities come onto the beaches while dressed in hilarious fancy dresses. Thousands come to support the brave souls going for the swim. It has become a tradition to take to the sea in Santa costumes in recent years. After the swim, they are warmed up with hot flasks of tea and blankets. Christmas day swim provides communities with a fun experience, raising money for charity.

Guise Dancing

Guising or masking, or mumming, has been very popular across the country for centuries. Guise dancing is a vital part of Cornish culture, and it originates from West Cornwall. It is performed during the twelve days of the Christmas celebration, and for some time, it was outlawed for anti-social behaviours. Guise dancing involves players touring villages while donned in masks and animal skins. Even though much of Britain phased this tradition out, Cornwall kept guising since in these villages because they knew each other. There has been a resurgence of guise dancing but without the mischief.

Cornish Bush

The Cornish Bush is similar to other Cornish traditions, and its roots are from Pagan celebrations. The Cornish Bush is a three-dimensional wreath representing life and is made by weaving holly, mistletoe, and ivy around a circle of withy. Traditionally the ring is hung indoors on December 20. To immerse in this Cornish tradition, you should enhance your bush with a candle and light on the eve of 20th December while dancing underneath it to celebrate the God of Light. The mistletoe in the wreath is acknowledged for its traditional purpose.

The Montol Festival

The Montol Festival is a seasonal event unique to Cornwall. It’s a celebration of the Cornish midwinter traditions and customs held on the 21st of December. The Montol festival brings a host of events. It is celebrated with musicians, fire performers, obby osses, guise beasts, and Christmas carol singers.

Mousehole Lights

The West Cornwall fishing village welcomes thousands of revellers for spectacular Christmas lights. Hardworking volunteers have carefully prepared the renowned decorations. It is such a festive wrapping up warm, sipping wine, and perusing the wonderful mousehole lights displays in the harbour and the village.

Stargazy Pie

For Christmas dinner why not try this Cornish fish pie filled with pilchards that protrude from the crust. It tastes better than your ordinary pie, and it originates from Mousehole and is popularized by the children’s book, The Mousehole. During Tom Bawcock’s Eve on 23rd December, the dish is eaten, celebrating the hero who rescued the villagers from starvation. The entire catch was baked into a huge stargazy pie, with fish heads protruding through the top.

Sea Shanties

Dating back to the mid-1400s, the shanty is a working song created to make sure there was a rhythm going during labour and make the work more fun. Sea shanties have remained integral in fishing communities to this day, and today they are heard in fishing pubs around Christmas. They have evolved with time, and they are mostly accompanied by the rhythmic thudding of the feet and slaps on wooden beams.

Share this post