It's May 1st!

Considering what a wet miserable week it's been, I thought a quick post to celebrate all the cheeriness of May Day would be a good idea! We should all be outside in the sun, dancing round Maypoles wearing crowns of flowers - instead, I'm just about to stand at the bus stop and get soaked by cars! Nice!

 Maypole Celebrations 1910

May Day is a celebration of spring, rejuvenation, fertility and life—and traditionally, a day to dance and weave the Maypole, who's symbolism has been continuously debated by folklorists for centuries, although no set conclusion has ever been arrived at. Some classify maypoles as symbols of the world axis. The anthropologist Mircea Eliade suggests that the maypoles were simply a part of the general rejoicing at the return of summer, and the growth of new vegetation. In this way, they have similarities with the May Day garlands which were also a common festival practice in the United Kingdom mid-14th century. The practice had become increasingly popular in the UK throughout the ensuing centuries, with the maypoles becoming symbols that brought the local community together.

 A FANTASTIC 1920's example, May Day flapper girls!!

Often in celebrations, a May Queen is picked, who must ride or walk at the front of the parade. She wears a white gown to symbolise purity and usually a tiara. According to some folklore, the tradition once had a sinister twist, in that the May Queen was put to death once the festivities were over?! Crikey. Slightly Wicker Man eh? Luckily, that trend was left behind in the 14th century, and there's a good chance it was anti-pagan propaganda anyway!

Peggy Clark as a land girl May Queen, Bedfordshire, 1944


Little May Queen wearing flowers in her hairs, early 1900's 

There's even an official flower for the occasion, the May Blossom which is suitable pink and girly for use in the headdresses, but also a cheery sign of a hopeful summer!


There are also tradition for complex dances to be preformed, such as the May Queen dancing troupes, who include complicated weaves and unweaves, but they are not well known today. However, such dances are performed every Mayday around the permanent Maypole at Offenham, in Worcestershire. Temporary Maypoles are usually erected on village greens and events are often supervised by local Morris dancing groups. Could there be a better symbol of eccentric British folk traditions than the Morris dancers?

Chanctonbury Ring Morris Men, 1953

There's countless folk traditions and village fetes celebrating this weekend, why not go to one of your local shows? Morris Dancing in the rain sounds very jolly! :)

Hope you have a good May Day!

Katie

5 comments :

LandGirl1980 said...

What a fab post! Love the old photos of May Pole dancing!

...Tabiboo... said...

I remember being part of the Maypole dancing at school and always entertained at the school fete.

'hello'

Nina x

...Tabiboo... said...

ps. Forgot to say in Headley :)

Katie B said...

Thanks Charly! I was so glad you brought your post out from the archive! It's such a good read, i was hoping you'd put your take on May 1st up today, and it gave me lots to think about, particularly as I saw Dandelions everywhere today!

Katie B said...

Hello Tabiboo! Thanks so much for your comment, I actually forgot all about the ONE time I did do maypole dancing at school until just this second! Lots of red&white&blue dressing up items involved!
I wonder how many schools did it today?

I'm off to have a good look around your blog now! :)

Katie