Straw Bear Festival, Whittlesey. Courtesy of www.strawbear.org.uk
Possibly England's strangest event, the annual Whittlesea Straw Bear Festival is held in the hamlet of Whittlesey. Flanked by elaborately dressed attendants, a man dressed as a straw bear is led through the village before his unusual costume is ceremonially incinerated.
An ancient custom, in olden times on Plough Monday (the first Monday after Twelfth Night) a Whittlesey male would be bound in straw and led from house to house to dance in return for a fee or small gifts of food or alcohol. The curious practice subsided at the turn of the 20th century before being revitalised in the 1980s.
Nowadays on the Saturday the bear is accompanied by dancers, musicians, entertainers and villagers on a route that invariably ends in one of the village's bustling pubs. Sundays are a slightly more muted affair, seeing the straw bear burnt.
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