These bonfires are mostly organised by the Old Cornwall Societies, which are groups that celebrate Cornish culture and traditions. The societies have created a special ceremony in Cornish and English for the occasion and midsummer flowers and herbs are thrown on the bonfire. The fire is lit just as the sun goes down (around 9.30pm) by the Lady of the Flowers, who is specially chosen to take part in the ceremony.
In the past these bonfires celebrated St John the Baptist’s day and were very common indeed, being lit everywhere in Cornwall, not just on the high hills. The Cornish language word for Midsummer is Golowan, which means festival of light and happiness. On the 23rd of June in Penzance a special torchlit procession takes place, led by the Golowan band and an “'Oss” called Penglaz. Penglaz is actually a horse skull on a pole, carried by a dancer covered over by a black cloth. The dancer can make the skull’s mouth snap and bite, and the “'Oss” dances in and out of the crowd and band.