Cornish Folk Tradition: Songs Music Dance and Associated Customs
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Cornish Dance: Dons Kantol - Candle Dance
Candles dances and games have an interesting place in Cornish folk tradition:
Children's Christmas Dance
Wedding Dance

In a few remote districts on Christmas-eve children may be, after nightfall, occasionally (but rarely) found dancing around painted lighted candles placed in a box of sand. This custom was very general fifty years ago. The church towers, too, are sometimes illuminated. This of course, on the coast can only be done in very calm weather. The tower of Zennor church (Zennor is a village on the north coast of Cornwall, between St. Ives and St. Just) was lit up in 1883, for the first time since 1866.” (Margaret Courtney, Cornish Feast and Folklore, Penzance,Beare and Sons, 1890, p 7)

Up to twenty years ago it was customary in some of the villages in West Cornwall to terminate the wedding festivities with a “dance around the candles” . The candles were fixed in highly polished and beautifully fashioned brass candlesticks, and these were placed on the floor. At the end of the dance, the dancers all jumped over the candles, which by this time were burning low. This was regarded as a charm to ensure faithfulness, and also good luck. The higher the guests jumped, the more luck they were supposed to bring the bride and bridegroom. (Tom Miners Old Cornwall 1930 Vol 1 no 12 p 23)
In awed silence we watched the sprinkling of the sand with water and the placing of ten candles in their position – nine in a circle and one in the middle of the sand. A few moments later they were alight and excitement reached fever heat. Joining hands we danced tirelessly around the candles to the tunes which children sing, and by the time that supper was announced the candles presented a very woe-begone appearance, the fraught created by the dancers having hastened their burning and coated their stumps with blobs of grease. (E Chirgwen, Old Cornwall 1930 Vol1 Number 21 p 21 ) May Day Dance
An Old Man who used to work at Reskadinnick told me that at Connor Downs some sixty or seventy years ago the people of the village used to meet in a sheltered field on May Day evening and dances were held around a thorn tree which was stuck all over with candles. When it grew dark the candles were lighted and the dances continued. A friend who lived in Gwinear Church town some forty years ago told me that at that time the children of the village used to come to the door on May Day Singing the following lines: .
Tom Toddy: Drinking Game   May Day is passing away
An old drinking game, now I expect known to but few. Each person in succession has to drink a glass of beer or spirits, on the top of which a piece of lighted candle has been put, whilst the others sing:   Please have you got a bit of candle to give away
  (Tom Miners, Old Cornwall, 1934 Vol 2 p14 )
  Tom Toddy es come hoam, come hoam,    
  Tom Toddy es come hoam  
  Weth es eyes burnt, and his nawse burnt  
  And es eye-lids burnt also
  Tom Toddy es come hoam
  (Margaret Courtney, Cornish Feast and Folklore, Penzance,Beare and Sons, 1890, p 189)
   
   
   
   
   
   
 
 
 
 
   
   
   
   
     
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