The 14th Gathering of Cornish Cousins
far from ‘ome
Immigrant Experiences on the Keweenaw Peninsula
July 25 to 29, 2007
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in Calumet and Central Mine Location
Central Mine Methodist Church Board
Cornish American Heritage Society
Keweenaw County Historical Society
Keweenaw Kernewek, the Cornish Connection of the Copper Country
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|Presentations, Speakers and Bios|
Coming from Cornwall
The Biennial Gatherings of Cornish Cousins serve to preserve the continuing heritage of the descendants of Cornish immigrants and to strengthen ties with Cornwall. The sponsors of the 14th Gathering are very pleased to highlight two longstanding traditions from Cornwall—the Helston Flora or Furry Day and male voice choirs.
Helston Furry Day
Thought to take the name Furry from
the Latin word feriae (holidays or festivities), the Helston Furry Day
has become Flora
On May 8, bluebells and other flowers are everywhere in Helston in preparation for the celebration. Parades begin early, starting with one that was originally for servants of the gentry. Shortly after, the Hal-an-Tow is performed. In mid-morning, children dressed in white dance through the town.
At noon begins the main event of the day, the formal dance. Ladies in ball gowns and men in morning dress dance in and out of buildings and through the streets of the town. The drumbeat has everyone keeping time as bystanders crane their necks to see who is “dancing here, prancing there, jigging, jogging everywhere”.
The event has taken place since pre-Christian times, although there was an effort to eliminate it in Victorian times. The honor of being one of the dancers was and is reserved for those born in Helston or with connections to Helston. Those who left Cornwall to come to the Keweenaw may have been part of the bystanders or even part of the parades.
The 14th Gathering will open by re-enacting the Helston Flora Day Parade down Fifth Street, the main street of Calumet Village. Led by the Holman-Climax Male Voice Choir members from Helston, Cornish Cousins will bring this ancient tradition to streets their immigrant ancestors trod.
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