Helston Flora Day

Helston Flora Day

May 8
According to legend, there was a large stone that at one time blocked off the entrance to hell. One night Satan tried to steal the stone. But on his way through Cornwall, England, he was intercepted by the Archangel Michael, who forced him to drop the stone and flee. The town where he dropped it was called Helston (from Hellstone, or stone of hell), and for many years a large block of granite sat in the yard of a tavern there.
The people of Helston continue to celebrate the Archangel's victory, although no one is quite sure why this celebration has been called "Furry Day." It may derive from the Gaelic word fer meaning "a fair," or from the Latin feriae, meaning "festival." Some think it's a corruption of "Flora's Day," a reference to the original Roman goddess of flowers ( see Floralia). In any case, today the event is known as Helston Flora Day.
The day's festivities include the "Furry dance," which is performed in the streets by men in top hats and women in fancy dresses, and a trip to the woods in search of flowers and leaves. The original rock has long since been broken up into building stones and used for local construction. Flora Day is held on May 8 except in years when the 8th falls on a Sunday or Monday, in which case it is moved to the previous Saturday.
CONTACTS:
Helston Tourist Information Centre
79 Meneage St.
Helston, Cornwall TR13 8RB United Kingdom
44-13-2656-5431; fax: 44-13-2657-2803
SOURCES:
BkFest-1937, p. 58
BkHolWrld-1986, May 8
DaysCustFaith-1957, p. 120
DictDays-1988, p. 45
DictFolkMyth-1984, p. 204
OxYear-1999, p. 200