Following The Bear
According to the programme on the day “Many years ago it was the custom on the Tuesday following Plough Monday (always the first Monday after Twelth Night) to dress a Plough Boy in straw and parade him through the streets of Whittlesey.”, although they’ve obviously tweaked the date, as it’s Saturday, so as to be a little more visitor friendly.
So what to see ? Well the stars of the show are obviously the Straw Bears – and this year there seems to be three of them, two Straw Bears and one Plough Boy. Obviously a man (or boy) dressed from head to toe in straw being led about the town is always going to be a strange sight however until you actually see them for yourself stumbling around the streets you’ll perhaps never know just quite how odd.
As well as the Bears the festival also features a plethora of ‘Dance Sides’ – including Sword Dancing, Rapper Sword Dancing (which isn’t what you’d first think it is – and perhaps doesn’t differ from ‘nomal’ Sword Dancing, you’ll guess correctly that I’m not an expert), Clog Dancing and a whole host of Morris Dancers – some in the traditional white handkerchief style you’d imagine and some who seemed to have styled themselves on the Mighty Boosh’s Hitcher.
All in all a very cold, baffling but enjoyable couple of hours.
As an aside – on the way to Whittlesey I found another Fenland tradition, namely ice skating, still alive and well. Although it was cold apparently it wasn’t cold enough for the British and Fenland Skating Championships to take place.
Filed under: Tradition | 2 Comments
Tags: Clog Dancing, Ice Skating, Morris Dancing, Rapper Sword Dancing, Straw Bear, Sword Dancing, The Fens, The Hitcher, The Mighty Boosh, Whittlesey, Whittlesey Straw Bear Festival