The St Ives Feast Day is held in order to celebrate the consecration of the Parish Church of St. Ia, or St. Eia, which occurred in 1434 AD. The event takes place every year on the first Monday after February 3rd.
St Ives Feast Day and the Hurling of the Silver Ball is a tradition that can be traced back over hundreds of years and is something that is looked forward to every year by everyone in the local area as well as tourists from further afield.
Hurling the silver ball is an ancient tradition in St Ives
The event centres around the Hurling of the Silver Ball which is often described as an ancient form of rugby, although the ball is smaller. The ball is about the size of a cricket ball and is made of apple wood coated in shiny silver.
The game is also known as Cornish Hurling and revolves around two groups of people (the countrymen and the townsmen) literally fighting it out to keep possession of the silver ball.
The St Ives Feast Day proceedings begin with a Civic Procession from the Guildhall at 9:30am which proceeds to Venton Ia Well. The parish priest blesses the silver ball as part of the formal ceremonies at the famous St. Ia's Church and then basically all hell breaks loose as the participants do whatever it takes in order to win the ball off each other.
First one to the Mayor wins!
After the blessing ceremony, the silver ball is tossed by the Mayor of St Ives into the crowd waiting on the beach below. Taking part in the hurling can be rough, so most people prefer to find a good pitch at the side of the road or near the Guildhall and simply watch the local fun.
The winner of the Hurling of the Silver Ball competition is determined by whoever presents the silver ball to the mayor on the steps of the Guildhall at the centre of the town as soon as the clock strikes twelve (midday). The winner is presented with a silver coin and in line with tradition, the local children wait outside the Guildhall where they are given penny coins which are dropped to them from the Guildhall balcony.
Even though visitors from out of the town are made more than welcome if they choose to get involved in the hurling of the silver ball it is still very much something for the locals. This has no doubt got a lot to do with the fact that the St Ives Feast Day takes place at the beginning of February when there are not many tourists about and the weather may not be as appealing as it is during the summer months.
St Ives Feast Day fun
For anyone who enjoys experiencing an old Cornish tradition, this St Ives Feast Day is well worth a visit. Although there is little chance of getting a suntan, St Ives at this time of the year is still a really lovely place to visit.
There is a still a lot going on to keep visitors occupied only without the summer crowds, with plenty of shops, galleries, Tate St Ives and fun on the beach. If you tie in a trip to coincide with the St Ives Feast Day you really will be getting the best out of both worlds.
Have you joined in with Hurling the Silver Ball on St Ives on Feast Day or have you just stood on the side-lines and watched? What about any similar events which are held at this time of the year? Please let us know…