Maypole dancing is most often associated with May Day celebrations all over the world but also happens at other times of celebration. Originally commemorating the arrival of spring, May Day was a holiday with much merry-making. A young girl was selected as May Queen often with a May King. They were “crowned” and presided over the festivities which included feasting, singing, music-making and dancing.
The celebration of May Day and Maypole Dancing was banned for a short time in England during the 17th Century but has continued to be enjoyed since that time.
Over the years, several other activities have become associated with Maypole Dancing. More >>
Originally, the tradition was to decorate a pole with garlands of flowers and leaves. These were known as ribbon-less maypoles and dancers simply circled the maypole in time with the music which was often provided by pipe and tabor, fiddle and whatever other instruments could be found. Later, ribbons were attached to the top of the maypole and dancers wound in different directions around the maypole holding a ribbon each to create a complex pattern of colours. After the ribbons have been wound onto the pole or perhaps plaited on themselves, the practice was to reverse the path of the dance to unwind the ribbons again. A typical maypole can have 10 or often many more dancers. More >>
The dances were often led by Morris Dancers playing the traditional tunes of the region. Today, the music usually features fiddle, pipe, tabor, accordion and concertina. More >>