Tuesday, May 05, 2009


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.


SandyCarlson said...

I love this holiday. Thanks for this history.

Naomi said...

You are welcome Sandy. Glad you enjoyed the post.

Kyle and Svet Keeton said...

When I was little this holiday was huge in America. In fact one of my memories at about three and four years old is of the May Pole. We would be taught this tradition in school.

Then May day seemed to die off.

Thanks for stopping by our blog and Svet is waving her arms and telling me to say Hi! :)

Kyle and Svet

Linda said...

We celebrated May Day here in Virginia when I was a girl with a festival including a Maypole dance.

Marion said...

You've brought back some lovely memories, Naomi. I remember practising around the Maypole as a youngster...it is too bad it is rarely done anymore. It was so much fun. Every school had their own Maypole and we danced in front of the whole town...it was great.

Happy Mayday!

A Brit in Tennessee said...

This brings back so many lovely memories of dancing around the Maypole, it was such a huge part of growing up "English".....
I was a Morris dancer, a Scottish dancer, and ran the pony rides at garden fetes, each Spring/Summer.
Lovely post, and thanks for bringing back happy times !

Naomi said...

Hi Kyle

Nice to see you and Svet again. Hugs to you both. I didn't realise you had the Maypole tradition over there. You learn something new everyday. I know May Day is quite a big holiday where you live in Russia.

Thanks for stopping by Linda. Hope you enjoyed your visit here. Thanks for the nice comments about the blog. The popularity of Maypole dancing seems to have spread to your country too.

Happy Mayday Marion! Hope you had a good one. It's a shame how these popular traditions have started to die out. Glad I brought back some happy memories for you

Glad you enjoyed the post Brit in Tennessee. Sometimes it's nice to take a trip back down Memory Lane. I'll come over and visit you soon.