Friday, May 1, 2009

May 1


May Day is a time to celebrate the onset of May, the month that sees the Earth reaching
itself ready to burgeon to its maximum capacity. Since the ancient days in England there prevailed a custom of "bringing in the May" on May Day. This was why people would go to the woods in the early dawn. There they picked flowers and lopped off tender branches to bring them in and decorate the houses.

May Day and flowers:
It has always been strongly associated with flowers. Partly may be because of their availability in abundance. But that is not all. There are other reasons as well. For instance, the May Garland and beggar girls.

Making garland is one of those ancient May Day customs that has survived still today. May garlands, is meant for the coming of summer. May garlands were also used while begging by the kids from door to door. At other times of the year begging would have been an offence. But if it was done at May time with a garland. This is why groups of small girls, crowned with leaves and flowers, went from door to door singing and begging.

Maypole dance:
On the first day of May, English villagers woke up at daybreak to roam the countryside gathering blossoming flowers and branches. A towering maypole was set up on the village green. This pole, usually made of the trunk of a tall birch tree, was decorated with bright field flowers. The villagers then danced and sang around the maypole, accompanied by a piper.

My memories of May Day are ones of so much fun. When I was in elementary school (long, long time ago) we always had a maypole on the playground and had so much fun dancing around it.

Have a good May Day, build the kids a maypole!

3 comments:

Betsy said...

I remember our class at school decorating a May pole and dancing around it, holding on to all of those streamers! It was probably around 2-3 grade. I think that's the only one I've ever seen! I like the tradition of leaving little nosegays on your neighbor's doors, too! Happy May!

Jill said...

I wish we could have done a May pole! I have such pictures in my head of girls in beautiful white dresses dancing round a decorated pole!

As a child I used to hang a May basket on my grandmother's door and RUN as fast as I could...it was SO sneaky and SO much fun!

nanny said...

Betsy and Jill, we never left flowers on doors, I think that is a great tradition. Wouldn't it be fun to receive the flowers.