Thursday, May 1

May Day & Maypole

May Day does have a long and noteworthy history as one of the world's principal festivals. As Pre-Christian local celebrations were banned or Christianized during the process of christisation in Europe, an idea of a secular holiday started being observed in schools and churches .
The crowning of the Queen began as Puritans lost power in England. It was observed as a Mary’s months. Mary’s head was often adorned with flowers. It came to be regarded more as a day of joy and merriment for the kids, rather than a day of observing the ancient fertility rights. Baskets were weaved & knitted for sweets, flowers, usually left anonymously on the neighbor’s doorstep.

The origin of the May Day as a day for celebration dates back to the days, even before the birth of Christ. And like many ancient festivals it too has a Pagan connection. The celebrations used to be in Ireland, Scotland, and Isle of Man, central and northern Europe.

Every English village had its Maypole of all sizes by the Middle Ages but in London and the larger towns they were raised. The transformation brought about by the restoration included challenging the practices that were obviously of pagan origin. But the Maypole, or, May tree, was not issued in practice at the behest of the second Stuart. Although they succeeded in doing this, Maypole with most of the other traditions, many still survived. And Maypole is one of them.

In France it merely changed its name. In Perigord and elsewhere, the May Tree became the "Tree of Liberty" and was the symbol of the French Revolution. Even with the new classification, the peasants took care of the tree in the same traditional spirit. They would dance around it the same way as their forefathers had always done.

Anthropologist finds a strong relationship between the ancient trees related traditions of the British and the Romans. According to The anthropologist E. O. James' description, as a part of the May Day celebration, the youths in old Europe cut down a tree, lopped off the branches leaving a few at the top. They then wrapped it round with violets like the figure of the Attis, the ancient Roman god. At sunrise, they used to take it back to their villages by blowing horns and flutes. In a similar manner, the sacred pine tree representing the god Attis was carried in procession to the temple of Cybele on Rome's Palatine Hill during the Spring Festival.

The Puritans frowned on May Day, so the day has never been celebrated with as much enthusiasm in the United States as in Great Britain. But the tradition of celebrating May Day by dancing and singing around a maypole, tied with colorful streamers or ribbons, survived as a part of the English tradition.

The May Day celebrations were again changed in the Victorian age.The kids celebrating the day by moving back and forth around the pole with the streamers, choosing of May queen, Face washing in May Dew and hanging of May baskets on the doorknobs of folks, -- are all the leftovers of the old European traditions. People from the very rich to the very poor all took part and the Puritans didn't like this mixing of social classes at all.
May Day was to stay banned until 1660, when Charles II reinstated it but with drastic changes? Over the past century, May Day came to acquire new meanings. It is not hard to see how the Puritans and the Pagans fought over May Day. Few have become quite opposed to the tradition of light hearted joyfulness with Maypoles, Morris dance, and bathing in the May dew. And for some the significance of this day helped working people in picking it up as the day to celebrate as a day off their work.

By the 20th century May Day has come to be regarded a red letter day and has become a festival of the laboring class. At present, the May Day connection, best known outside the Maypoles, is the celebration of the Communists this is how May Day, once mainly a spring festival has become a festival of the laboring class.

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