' There is no doubt that, after Padstow, the May festival of Helston, whose 'Furry-day' takes place a week later on the eighth of the month, must prove somewhat disappointing to those who are interested in these ceremonies as an expression of the folk-spirit. Owing in a large measure to the folk-dancing movement, the fame of the Furry-dance itself has now spread far beyond the limits of the ancient borough in which it has so long been annually performed, and to-day may be said to enjoy a national reputation. All this has made for a certain self-consciousness about the proceedings at Helston, where the townspeople, realizing the importance of their festival in attracting visitors, have allowed it to become something in the nature of a Spectacle'.
True, in many respects, Helston shows commendable pride in the manner in which its ceremonies are conducted, and the leading townspeople here still take their proper part in the dance, and in other ways lend to the proceedings that measure of support which is so sadly lacking at Padstow. Despite this, the crowds who now throng the pleasant old-world streets of Helston on Furry-day are for the most part alien crowds, brought there in motor coaches from neighbouring Resorts', and come only to gaze in wonder or amusement at a * quaint* old ceremony of whose significance they know little and probably care less. Whilst, therefore, year by year, the festival attracts onlookers in ever-increasing numbers, its underlying purpose—the bringing in of the * summer and the may, O! - has faded more and more into the background, just as the green boughs which once decked the doorways as a symbol of the approach of summer have given way to the flags and bunting with which the streets are now * brightened up* to please the money-spending visitors.
The very name by which the festival is now known shows that this desire to 'improve upon the original is no new thing. During the latter part of the eighteenth century, the influence of certain classi-calists who were seeking to endow almost every English custom with a Greek or Roman origin was instrumental in bringing about a change in the name 'Furry' to that of 'Flora', from the supposed connection of the festival itself with the Roman feast of Floralia. By what means the Romans who, so far as is known, were never properly established in Cornwall and, beyond a few milestones and one or two possible camps, have left no trace of their invasion here, should have so successfully imposed this single festival upon the Celtic forefathers of the Cornish race, those who defend the word Flora have never yet explained. All the older historians of Cornwall, indeed, agree in condemning the idea as unworthy of credence. Writing at the beginning of the last century Polwhele, himself a classical scholar, speaks of the corruption of the term Furry into Flora as 'a vulgar error', whilst another historian - Davies Gilbert - states that..... '
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