April 30, 2006
sights, rites and colors
In the old days, when people thought of May Day, they didn't think of Communism, or International Workers Day (or even massive immigration protests).
In simpler times, lovely young maidens would dance around the Maypole.
"They ... set up a May-pole, drinking and dancing about it many days together, inviting the Indian women, for their consorts, dancing and frisking together, (like so many fairies, or furies rather,) and worse practices. As if they had anew revived & celebrated the feasts of ye Roman Goddess Flora, or ye beastly practices of ye mad Bacchanalians."The Puritans in England didn't like Maypoles either, so they were banned under Cromwell (although, interestingly, they were restored along with the monarchy).
According to Wikipedia, the history is very ancient:
Maypole dancing is a traditional form of folk dance from western Europe, especially England, Sweden and Germany. Dancers dance in a circle each holding a coloured ribbon attached to a central pole, known as the maypole. By the movements of the dancers 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.More here, including the connection to the Roman Festival of Flora (although it appears that the British erected Maypoles before the Roman invasion of 43 AD). The Festival of Flora (Floralia, later Ludi Florales) was traditionally celebrated from April 28 to May 3. (It seems Governor Bradford knew a little bit about ancient history.)
Anyway, I was privileged to attend a Maypole Dance this morning, and I'll share a couple of pictures in the hope of honoring the true spirit of May Day.
The dancers begin by winding the ribbons (accomplished by dancing in different directions around the Maypole):
Being that this is Floralia, the blog post wouldn't be complete without some Spring flowers. The color of these tulips pleased me:
She's a "bi-eyed" dog, which means that she has one blue and one brown eye. As you can see, the two retinas have different colors too.
No, I don't make this stuff up. Coloring the truth is redundant.
posted by Eric on 04.30.06 at 09:23 PM
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