We just celebrated the May Day Bank Holiday here in England. I can't believe how fast this year has flown by and we're in May again already! Like a lot of people I always look forward to May as the beginning of Summer. A time when the trees and flowers start to blossom. I also like to think of it as a time to cast off the Winter woolies and hopefully (fingers crossed!) look forward to some warmer weather! Unfortunately that's not the case at the moment as we have a lot of wind and rain here in England. But hopefully that will pass over and we'll have some fine weather soon.
I grew up in the country and as a child, I remember Maypole dancing, (which I used to love at this time of year). Maypole dancing is a very popular and traditional part of English life in many country towns and villages. The dancing often takes place on village greens. Coloured ribbons are attached to a wooden "pole" and each dancer takes the end of a piece of ribbon. The dancers dance around the pole, weaving in and out with the pieces of ribbon, creating beautiful colourful patterns in the process. However if somebody steps out of line, then the ribbons can end up being tangled and then they have to be untangled which only adds to the fun! I always enjoyed Maypole dancing as a child. We used to practice for hours to make sure we got it just right! In olden times, people used to cut down young trees, plant the tree poles in the ground and dance around them to celebrate the end of Winter and the beginning of Summer (even though Summer doesn't offcially begin until June!). This is how Maypole dancing first began. Shakespeare also mentioned the Maypole in his play, "A Midsummer Night's Dream", comparing the character of Helena to a "painted maypole". It's also a tradition here in England to have May Day parades and festivals and crown a May Queen. Morris dancing is also popular in some areas of the country. Morris dancing is a popular type of English folk dancing involving both men and women dressed in bright and colourful costumes. Like Maypole dancing it's a lot of fun! I always enjoy watching Morris dancers. May Day has its origins in Roman times when the festival of Flora was celebrated. Flora was the Roman goddess of fruit and flowers and nowadays she is represented by the May Queen in parades and festivals.