Our festival is a reinterpretation and modernisation of the old Manx customs surrounding Oie Voaldyn or May Day Eve. Launched in 2018, our fledgling event quickly gathered momentum; we soon recognised there was a real desire to revive some of our unique Manx customs and we welcomed involvement from the local community.
The aim of our festival is to bring people together to acknowledge and celebrate the return of summer. We don’t intend to recreate ancient practices but to continue in the spirit of our forebears and create our own connection to the cycles of the seasons. Oie Voaldyn celebrates the traditions of the past with an eye on the future.
Traditionally Oie Voaldyn was a time to celebrate the return of the fertility of the land. The use of fire was one of a number of customs used at this time of year, to fend of witches and evil spirits. Fire was seen as a purifier and healer and would have been danced around and jumped over by the members of the community. The winter gorse was burnt away to make way for new growth. Farmers would have driven their livestock between the bonfires to cleanse and protect them before being put out into the fields.
It was a time of joy and revelry, a time for courtship and romance, and a celebration of the potential for new life. It was about casting off the darkness and celebrating the light.
Our evening interpretation sees Summer and Winter challenging each other for supremacy. With torchlight processions, a mock battle and gorse fires on the shore, the Son et Lumiere is viewed against the stunning backdrop of Peel Castle and bay.
The event is fully narrated with stirring and emotive music to accompany proceedings. The evening concludes with fire poi, fire spinning and an amazing firework display.
This is an inclusive community event and we welcome participation. It takes a lot of people to make an event like this successful, so we need your help. Will you dip your toe in or throw yourself in at the deep end? Have a look and see what would suit you.
TOTALLY COMMITTED! LOVING IT AND WANTING TO BE INVOLVED?
There are some key roles that we need help with. Most of the main characters have been cast, but there are still a few gaps. All roles are non-speaking parts, but some acting is required. Let us know if you would like to step up! These folks will be in the thick of it, they will be choreographed and rehearsed and will need to be able to commit to the dress rehearsal the evening before the event.
Get invovled schedule:
4th May Saturday
5th May Sunday Day of Event
6th May Monday
Contact us and let us know if you would like to join the team.
WANT TO BE INVOLVED BUT DON'T WANT TO DRESS UP?
There are a number of important tasks on the evening, for which we need responsible adults! Let us know if you or someone you know would be happy to help in any of these areas:
Contact us and let us know if you think you can help.
ONLY ON THE DAY
Not sure whether you’ll be able to make it – but will decide nearer the time? You can get dressed up and join in one of the torchlight processions and take part in the performance on the shore.
Declare your allegiance (just choose summer or winter), dress to impress and collect your torch in Peel on the day. At that point you will be given full instructions about where and when to meet.
You will need to be at your designated starting point, unlit torch at the ready either on the lower slopes of Peel Hill (summer), or at the Creg Malin Car Park (winter) for 8.30pm. Following a briefing from our fire marshalls , torches will then be lit and the processions will begin around 9pm. You will process to the performance area on the shore where you will stay until the event finishes at 10pm with fireworks.
Legally we are only insured for adults aged 16 or over to carry a fire torch. Under 16’s are welcome in the procession if accompanied by an adult.
The torches will be on sale (£5) in Peel on 4th & 5th May during the day. When buying your fire torch you will be required to sign a disclaimer form.
All profits from the sale of torches will go to our nominated charity (tbc).
Follow our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/oievoaldyn/ for an announcement nearer the time about where to get your fire torch.
'On this evening the Fairies were supposed to be peculiarly active...'
Oie Voaldyn (the evening before 1st May) is not far away, when Themselves & witches will be at their most active & powerful, so it's important that everyone gets themselves prepared...
Today we thought we'd remind everyone about getting yellow flowers ready at your threshold. Although different sources vary in the flowers used, they tend to agree that they should be yellow, and the most common form is sumark (primroses), as A. W. Moore has it in 1891: 'On this evening the Fairies were supposed to be peculiarly active. To propitiate them, and to ward off the influence of evil Spirits and Witches, who were also active at this time, green leaves or boughs and sumark, or primrose flowers, were strewn on the threshold.'
Manx Reminiscences by Dr J Clague (1911);
On the eve of May Day the young boys would have a cross of mountain ash (keirn) in their caps and a cross would be tied on the tail of cattle or any other animal that would be in the house. The right way to make a keirn cross is to split one stick and put the other stick through it and thus bind them together.
May-flowers (king-cups), rushes and flags were placed before the doors of the houses and cow-kept to keep them from harm and bad spirits. Flowers and plants were placed on the door side and window seats in the houses to keep fairies away. Water was always kept in the crock (large water dish) at night for the fairies.
Mugwort was worn in the coat and sometimes in the caps on the eve of May Day and on the eve of St John’s Day. Fires were lighted and fire in the hedges and gorse was burnt to frighten away the bad spirits. They made the hedges look like walls of fire. That is the meaning (root) of the word, “Boal Teine” Wall of Fire. Young boys jumped through the fire and the cattle were sometimes driven through the fire to keep them from harm for the whole year. Slide-carts of mugwort would be drawn from place to place to drive the bad spirits away.
Mugwort was thought to keep off every kind of disease put (caused) by bad spirits for they were very fearful of it. The right way to keep the herb was to pull it up by the roots on the eve of St John’s Day in the middle of the night. If it was pulled up in that way, it would keep its use right for the whole year. Some people called it the White Herb owing to the white colour under the leaves.
Horns were blown through the night and dollans (hoops with sheepskin stretched on them) were struck. People have forgotten that bells were used at first to frighten away bad spirits from the church.
After the horns were blown, the bells rung, the skin drums played, the May-flowers, rushes, flags and primroses placed before the doors and the keirn crosses in the caps of the boys and on the tails of the cattle, and the sliding carts of St. John’s Wort drawn from place to place, the bad spirits driven away and people and cattle had walked through the fire, then the fields were ready to put the cattle on the grass.
(source: Bernadette Wayde, www.asmanxasthehills.com, Manx Calendar Customs by CI Paton (1942) and Manx Reminiscences by Dr J Clague (1911);