Wednesday, May 02, 2012


April showers have
bought May flowers,
pink petunias here
Here we are, in the Merry Month of May, as it’s called in the song from the stage show “Camelot.”  What are your memories of past May celebrations? I don’t celebrate Beltane, but I celebrate many other things about May. I love the flowers the April showers have brought. Educators and students celebrate because they know school will soon be finished for this school year. Gardeners celebrate because they can enjoy their gardens before the summer heat hits.Others celebrate because vacation plans are underway for summer trips. Isn't it a great time of year?

Each year from kindergarten through second grade, I remember weaving a basket out of strips of colored construction paper and then plucking wildflowers on the way home to fill the basket. At least, I truly hope they were wildflowers and not from someone’s garden. The idea was to give the basket to my mom as a surprise. I placed it on the welcome mat, knocked, and ran around the house's corner. As if my mom wouldn’t know who’d left the lopsided paper basket filled with weeds. Yeah, I was a pretty dumb kid, but she always played along and pretended to be surprised and wonder aloud who could have left such a nice basket and flowers..That was when we lived in Southern California. I don’t remember doing more than making a card when we moved back to Texas. I suppose May 1st is too close to Mother's Day to merit much craft project time after kids leave primary grades.

May 1st is celebrated in many parts of the world as a holiday. For instance, have you ever danced around a Maypole? As a child, maybe first or second grade, my class did. Probably, it was in first grade because that teacher was near retirement age and a big fan of tradition (and a tremendously interesting person - even to a kid). Of course, at my elementary school, we did a very simplistic Maypole, but it seemed grand and exciting to me at the time.

Maypole dancing is ancient, but there's a lot of discord over just how old. The church of St. Andrew Undershaft in the City of London is named after the maypole that was kept under its eaves and set up each spring until 1517 when student riots put an end to the custom. The maypole itself survived until 1547 when a Puritan mob seized and destroyed it as a "pagan idol".

According to Wikipedia, here’s the way the real Maypole works.

Dancers perform circle dances around a tall pole that is dressed with garlands, painted stripes, flowers, flags and other emblems. The circular dance is regarded as the most common and ancient form and is thought by some to have Germanic pagan fertility symbolism, although there is a lack of evidence to support this. The circular dance is traditionally performed in the spring around the festival of May Day, but in Sweden it is during the midsummer festivities.

Dancing around the Maypole at
Barwick-in-Elmet, Yorkshire, England
Dancers gather in a circle, each holding a colored ribbon attached to a much smaller pole. As the dance commences the ribbons are intertwined and plaited either on to the pole itself or into a web around the pole. The dancers may then retrace their steps exactly in order to unravel the ribbons. This style of maypole dancing originates in the 18th century, and is derived from traditional and 'art' dance forms popular in Italy and France. These were exported to the London stage and reached a large audience, becoming part of the popular performance repertoire. Adopted at a large teacher training institution, the ribbon maypole dance then spread across much of England, and is now regarded as the most 'traditional' of May Day's traditional characteristics.

Both dance forms can be seen on the same day at the triennial maypole festival held in the village of Barwick-in-Elmet, West Yorkshire. Children of the village school perform a ribbon dance around a small maypole, and later a group of Morris dancers perform a circle dance around the main maypole.

If anyone does a Maypole dance locally, I’m unaware of it. Maybe at Scarborough Faire, but I am unsure.o I suppose that is another tradition slipping away. Not that it’s good or bad, it just seems today’s kids get cheated. Video games are fun and educational in some ways, but they don’t teach tradition or personal interaction. But I digress.

Here are some English children and their Maypole dance for you to enjoy. They were in Wheatley, Oxfordshire, England in 2008.

I hope May is a merry month for you. Even without a Maypole, you can do a little happy dance that May is here.

Here's another great thing about May - Brenda Novak's Annual Diabetes Auction. This year I donated to the Sweethearts of the West basket, which is valued at over $140.00. Anna Kathryn Lanier, a true sweetheart,  collected and posted the basket for us. My portion of the basked consists of a copy of HOME, SWEET TEXAS HOME, a fun Wanted Dead Or Alive photo frame, and a pendant watch necklace. The site has a list of the items. Whether you bid on this or something else, please bid. There are auction items to suit any taste.

Thanks for stopping by!

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