May Day


May 1st, May Day, has a long tradition.  In the Middle Ages every English village had its Maypole. The bringing in of the Maypole from the woods was a great occasion and was accompanied by rejoicing and merrymaking. The Maypoles were of all sizes and one village would compete with another to show who could produce the tallest Maypole. Maypoles were usually set up for the day in small towns, but in London and the larger towns they were erected permanently.

The earliest  Maypole in America dates to 1628 while William Bradford was governor of Plymouth.  A number of indentured servants broke free to create their own colony, setting up a Maypole in the center of the settlement, and behaving in such a way as to receive the scorn and disapproval of the nearby colonies.  This early colony of Merrymount was founded by Thomas Morton.

Maypole Dances are still common today in England and America.  Children hold colorful ribbons attached to a tall pole and weave in and under each other to festivally wrap the pole.

Modern Maypole in Pennsylvania

Trivia:  Which group of people in colonial days frowned on the celebration of the May Pole and forbade the celebration of this holiday so common in England?

May Day History

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