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Daily News17-05-2010
Magical Maypoles...

May has many traditions associated with it and one of the most traditional is dancing around the Maypole.
This is a large pole with ribbons attached; dancers then intertwine the ribbons around the pole and reverse the dance to untie it again.

In the Middle-Ages, May was celebrated with some lively celebrations which were held in an attempt to ensure the fertility of the land. Folks would go off into the woods overnight to collect greenery and party. It`s said that most villages in England would have a Maypole.

Philip Stubbes, writing in 1583, commented that men and maidens would stay over night and that `scarcely a third of them returned home again undefiled` - phew!Later, the Puritans got hot under the collar as they gazed at the locals dancing around the Maypole.

Why did the Puritans get grumpy? Primarily, they realised that this was a fertility rite with magical overtones, secondly it was an opportunity for naughtiness of all sorts and lastly they perceived the pole as an idol. They had a point- commentators believe the Maypole has pre-Christian origins. Indeed, there may even be a Pagan connection. For a while the Puritans stopped Maypole centred festivities but with the Restoration, the Maypole returned.

Today, the more robust aspects of Maypole dancing might have been forgotten but none the less, Maypoles still stand in parts of the United States and the British countryside. Indeed in America, although the practice was more frowned upon by the original European settlers, great delight was still taken from children dancing around the Maypole and choosing a May Queen.

In This Month's Newsletter
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