Cornish Folk Tradition: Songs Music Dance and Associated Customs
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Guldhize: The Cornish Harvest Traditions

 

Crying the Neck at St Columb

Crying the Neck at St Columb (St Columb Old Cornwall Society)

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The Cornish festival scene comes alive in September with events like the Newquay Fish Festival and St Ives September Festival not to mention Gorsedh Kernow which is taking place in St Just this year. The Gorsedh ceremony itself takes place on Sat 7th September in the Plen an Gwarry in St Just but Esedhvos events start with a Cornish literary festival on Thursday 5th. To celebrate 75 years of Gorsedh Kernow a special ceremony will also be held at Boscawen Un stone circle on the 21st September, the Autumn Equinox.

The 21st September is one of the pivotal points in the Celtic year and marks the beginning of Kynyav the Cornish autumn and the peak of the harvest season.  The Harvest Supper is called Guldhize in Cornwall and derived from “Gool” meaning feast and “dheys” meaning rick. The Cornish poet and mystic, Rev Robert Stephen Hawker was inspired by the Guldhize traditions of his native North Cornwall to re-introduce the harvest festival into the Church Calendar. The first service was held in Morwenstow in 1843 and quickly gained popularity to become the widely celebrated service that it is today.

One of the customs associated with the Guldhize in Hawker’s time was the ceremony of “Crying the Neck” which was performed to ensure future good harvests. Mechanised farming practice discouraged the practice, but a ceremony held by the St Ives Old Cornwall Society in 1928 captured the public imagination. People were encouraged to record memories and revive the custom so that it continues to be practiced across Cornwall today.

 

Harvest Traditions - Crying the Neck and Cock in Britches at Withiel

 

An Daras, doorway in Cornish, is an outreach project of Lowender Peran, Cornwall’s Celtic festival, and provides a portal to the distinctive traditions of Cornwall . The links on the site map will take you to the tunes, songs, dances and associated traditions of Cornwall. There are also links to teaching materials and further research work and publications on Cornish Folk Tradition.

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