May Day and how the meaning has changed

Every May 1st brings memories of my dear, sweet mother.  She never recognized the evil May Day had become.  She lived until the year 2000 and to her May Day always meant a day of celebrating spring.

As long as she was able, and that was quite a long time, she always made small May baskets to leave on her neighbors doorsteps as she had done since childhood.  She always kept a field of wild flowers by her garage.  It was never allowed to be mowed until the flowers had gone to seed.  She used those flowers for her little baskets. They were beautiful and the spirit behind them was even more beautiful; a little of the love in her heart expressed by the flowers God had put on this earth to delight each of us.

I remember in school we celebrated May Day with a Maypole. Those of you who are old enough remember the Maypole.  One of Wikipedia’s explanations is how I remember it.

Ribbon Dance

Dancing around a maypole at Barwick-in-Elmet, Yorkshire

Dancers gather in a circle, each holding a coloured 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.

We had May Day celebrations at all the schools I attended during my school years, (granted it was a long time ago) and none of them were political.  In high school, in the 1950’s we knew and recognized the communists around the world used it as a political occasion but we never dreamed that would become the major use of it in America.

When I did a Bing search I was heartened to see a link to this article:

Nashville Ballet teaches maypole dancing at Cheekwood

<b>Audrey Stanley, top center, a member of the Nashville Ballet, puts on a maypole dance performance Tuesday at Cheekwood. Fellow ballerinas Nancy Boyd, top right, Catherine Vining and Madeline Foderaro gave children a lesson in how to do the maypole dance, an ages-old tradition in Europe.</b>It’s a tradition that’s ages old in Europe, but it’s new to Cheekwood this year.

Maypole dancing, a folk dance performed around a tall pole decorated with greenery, flowers and ribbons, made its debut at the gardens Tuesday.

About 200 people attended the performance by the Nashville Ballet. The event, which lasted about 45 minutes, featured the dance, a demonstration by the dancers teaching attendees how to perform it and then a group performance with the dancers and attendees all gathered around the maypole, said Hillary Steinwinder, director of education and public programs at Cheekwood

A wonderful picture of children dancing around a Maypole.  It does my heart good.

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