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Maypoles, etc.

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EC2
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Post by EC2 » Sun March 1st, 2009, 3:07 pm

[QUOTE=Volgadon;21363]Aabout the druids, none of it going back much farther than the mid 1700s.
As I said before, I would love to see any historical source indicating that maypoles were in use before the 1500s.

See The Stations of the Sun by Professor Ronald Hutton published by Oxford University Press. There is one dubious provenance for a Maypole circa 1373 contained in a will. The first definite provenance is Welsh and mid 14thC, so that's 150 years earlier than your 1500's. Chaucer refers to a permanent maypole in his poem Chaunce of the Dice. Said maypole stood in Cornhill in London. Prof Hutton says 'By the period 1350-1400 the custom was well established across southern Britain.' He goes on to say they weren't known in Scotland and Ireland and argues that the Gaelic speaking nations went in for fire ceremonies instead. The Welsh took to them though. There is also evidence across Europe in Sweden, Russia and Scandinavia.
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

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Volgadon
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Post by Volgadon » Sun March 1st, 2009, 3:28 pm

Thanks EC for that correction, but maypoles were unknown in Russia. I also haven't seen evidence of maypoles being used in Germany and Scandinavia before the 15th-16th centuries.

Perdita, why is the Cerne Giant certainly pagan?

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Kveto from Prague
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Post by Kveto from Prague » Sun March 1st, 2009, 3:31 pm

Thanks for the link, volgadon, it was interesting. ive the feeling that the majority of our traditions dont date back quite as far as we'd like to think they do. I just think that theres something romantic about linking things back to "pagan" times essentially because those are eras that we often have little info about, therefore excites our imagination more.

There was a festival of native dancers here in prague a few months ago. we got to chat with a few groups of morris dancers from the uk, (along with cataluyans, swiss and many others) and thats where I learnt about the Moorish/morris origin.

My country has had a long tradition of maypoles (cant tell you how long) and we have had very little celtic influence here (aside from the name "bohemia" which is celtic). I havent looked into maypole taditions much so i cant compare. here every small village has a maypole which must be defended on the night of "witchburning". basically all the boys gather round the tree and must stay awake all night because boys from the nearest village will try to "steal" the maypole from a neighboring village by chopping it down. its bad news if your village loses its maypole, which means all the young girls in the village will "dry up" which i guess means they wont be very fertile. (no one takes it seriously of course) but we still hold this tradition fairly well.

actually, for a completely unreligeous country we hold onto our traditions pretty well (outside of prague) which is funny because you can often see the religeous symbolism. if you ever want to hear a good one just ask about a bohemian easter :-)

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EC2
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Post by EC2 » Sun March 1st, 2009, 3:45 pm

[quote=""Volgadon""]Thanks EC for that correction, but maypoles were unknown in Russia. I also haven't seen evidence of maypoles being used in Germany and Scandinavia before the 15th-16th centuries.

Perdita, why is the Cerne Giant certainly pagan?[/quote]

Volgadon, I wouldn't know about that. I am just quoting what professor Hutton says - he's one of our foremost authorities on the subject. In a chapter on Maytime, and its customs there are several pages discussing the pros and cons for maypoles. He says: 'In Europe they are recorded from Pyrenees, to Sweden and Russia, and in regions such as Scandinavia were used in both arable and livestock herding areas.' The source quoted is secondary: Mircea Eliade, 'Patterns in Comparitive Religion' (1958) 309-13
Prof Hutton has loads to say on Morris Dancers. He remains objective but points out that the general consensus of modern opinion is that it originated as court entertainment in royal and noble households in the mid 15thC and this is the way the evidence points. However, such dances may have been based on earlier ones involving the wearing of bells, elaborate coats and rapid movements. Provenance for the latter is sketchy. Provenance for the former is overwhelming.
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

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Perdita
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Post by Perdita » Sun March 1st, 2009, 4:08 pm

[quote=""Volgadon""]Thanks EC for that correction, but maypoles were unknown in Russia. I also haven't seen evidence of maypoles being used in Germany and Scandinavia before the 15th-16th centuries.

Perdita, why is the Cerne Giant certainly pagan?[/quote]


I can't think what else it could be. OK, so if it was carved in the 16th or 17th Century the people of Cerne Abbas probably wouldn't have been self consciously pagan but isn't the Giant generally accepted to be a symbol of fertility? The fertility symbolism might also represent growth in general, the harvest, nature and the life cycle.

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Volgadon
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Post by Volgadon » Sun March 1st, 2009, 5:26 pm

Could be lots of things, somebody's idea of a laugh, or perhaps an antiquarian's practical joke or an attempt to rile a neighbour. What is the evidence in favour of the fertility symbol apart from a large piece of equipment and some hefty muscles? Not forgetting that his size was increased a little bit along the years.

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Perdita
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Post by Perdita » Sun March 1st, 2009, 6:06 pm

[quote=""Volgadon""]Could be lots of things, somebody's idea of a laugh, or perhaps an antiquarian's practical joke or an attempt to rile a neighbour. What is the evidence in favour of the fertility symbol apart from a large piece of equipment and some hefty muscles? Not forgetting that his size was increased a little bit along the years.[/quote]

Ha ha! That's it - maybe they'd been reading Nuts and then carved a rude man in the side of the hill as a joke. :p Mind you, someone did carve Homer Simpson up there alongside the Giant not so long ago.. (which was a joke.) Maybe there's something in this!
But the Giant looks pagany. There's something about him, the club he's waving about, the look on his face. It just doesn't look like a smutty joke to me.
Last edited by Perdita on Sun March 1st, 2009, 6:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Volgadon
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Post by Volgadon » Sun March 1st, 2009, 6:27 pm

That could just be the result of somebody's classical education. Heracles carried a club and the hide of the nemean lion.

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Perdita
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Post by Perdita » Sun March 1st, 2009, 6:44 pm

I'm still not convinced it was a joke, why would they bother with a Heraclean club if it was a silly prank?

I found this link with pics

http://www.catnip.co.uk/cerne/

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Volgadon
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Post by Volgadon » Sun March 1st, 2009, 7:49 pm

The face is very crudely drawn, I'm not really sure that there is any expression there. Why not have a club, especially if the idea was to represent Heracles.
Are anatomically correct snowmen remnants of ancient fertility rites?

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