The biggest and most important of these traditions is guise dancing. This is a Cornish custom in which people dress up in costumes and masks and then perform, parade, sing, dance and play music. When it gets dark, thousands of people dress like this to take part in three processions. The biggest procession begins at 6pm and ends by burning an image of the sun just outside the town centre.
The sun is the main image used in the festival because the 21st December is often the Winter Solstice. This is the time of year when the day is shortest and the night is longest, meaning it marks the start of longer evenings and warmer days.
Another Cornish Christmas tradition found at the Montol festival is the “Chalking of the Mock”, which is the Cornish version of the Yule log. It was traditional on Christmas Eve to get a large log to burn. Before the fire was lit, someone drew a stick man on the log in chalk. This was supposed to represent the baby Jesus or perhaps “Old Father Time”. At Montol, this is the final part of the evening and someone is chosen especially to Chalk the Mock and place the log on the bonfire before it is lit.