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May Day

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Alisha Marie Klapheke
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May Day

Post by Alisha Marie Klapheke » Wed April 4th, 2012, 3:29 pm

Hi all! Did anyone here have any May Day traditions growing up?

Here in the states there isn't much todo about it, but I've always been fascinated with the blend of medieval and Victorian goings-on.

Care to share?

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Wed April 4th, 2012, 4:25 pm

I grew up in Los Angeles, which has a very active drama program (paid for by Hollywood, I guess they want to have a good pool of extras available) in all their recreation and parks departments. May day was the big play of the year, and every single park director had to corral a bunch of young thespians into doing one of the several pre-scripted plays. I was in one every single May from the age of four, playing one of the herd of rabbits in Jasper and the Magic Whistle. It was tedious, but since all my friends who hung out at the playground were also drafted (the parents liked the free babysitting--two hours in rehearsal once a week, who could turn that down?) I endured. Eventually, by my teen years, I started getting the lead roles -- usually the bad witch, or even the hero, since by that age the males were harder to draft.

We also had to dance the maypole. The recreation and parks district would ship one to every park, and we had to learn to weave the blasted thing. Really a pain for me, since I've always confused left and right. My streamer was usually the tangled one on the finished pole.

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Kveto from Prague
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Post by Kveto from Prague » Wed April 4th, 2012, 5:34 pm

In Bohemia we have several traditions revolving around the first of May.

Every village has a special spring tree which is decorated. On the first of May, all of the young boys must sleep outside in order to protect this tree. Because boys from the next village will try to sneak in and saw the tree down. If all of the guardians fall asleep and the next village steals the tree, then unfortunately, all of the girls in the village will dry up. Which is unfortunate. Many people claim this tradition dates back to Celtis times in Bohemia. I don't think its that old. Probably 300 years old at the most.

Around this time we also have a witchburning. It invoves bonfires and effigies in the shape of witches that we burn. Something like Guy Fawlkes day. You can often find many burnings in the city of Prague along the quays of the river.

Also on May day, you must find a blossoming cherry tree to kiss your true love under. The parks in Prague are full of young lovers that day.

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Post by Vanessa » Wed April 4th, 2012, 6:30 pm

That's fascinating, Kveto.

It's a bank/public holiday in the UK Well, it's the first Monday in May but it's called May Day Bank Holiday. I believe the May Day festival has something to do with fertility as it's spring. In some villages it is celebrated by having a May Queen, maypole dancing and sometimes there are Morris dancers.

There is one of largest maypoles in Britain not a million miles away from me in a place called Barwick-in-Elmet. It's 86ft. (The tallest one is 88ft.) I think they have some sort of May Day festival and maypole dancing, but I'm not actually sure whether it takes place on May Day or at Spring Bank which is at the end of May. Except there won't be a Spring Bank holiday this year due to the Queen's Golden Jubilee. We get two days the following week, so a bonus day!
Last edited by Vanessa on Wed April 4th, 2012, 6:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Madeleine » Wed April 4th, 2012, 6:47 pm

I think it's the May Day holiday when it all takes place, as that's the Monday nearest to the 1st of May. Morris dancing is still quite popular, I think there are some other traditions too, and there's the famous Obby Oss (Hobby Horse) ritual in Padstow, in Cornwall, which is quite spectacular and is, according to my pagan friend, a big party (it's a pagan celebration, basically of winter dying and greeting the spring).
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Post by Nefret » Wed April 4th, 2012, 6:50 pm

Oh, Beltane. I went to a craft fair during then with a maypole.
Into battle we ride with Gods by our side
We are strong and not afraid to die
We have an urge to kill and our lust for blood has to be fulfilled
WE´LL FIGHT TILL THE END! And send our enemies straight to Hell!
- "Into Battle"

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Post by SarahWoodbury » Wed April 4th, 2012, 8:09 pm

I went to Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and 'May Day' was a significant event with the whole works--white dresses, hats, Maypole etc.

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Post by bevgray » Fri April 6th, 2012, 11:18 pm

"May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii" or at least it was when I grew up over there.

I know when I was really small and we lived on the Mainland, some friends and I would put together little baskets with flowers and leave them on doorsteps. Sort of like Valentines but more general. No clue about the origin of the custom though.
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Post by Divia » Sat April 7th, 2012, 4:23 am

I wish we had something here in the states. It would be a nice way to celebrate the coming of the spring. Alas, no :(

I suppose I could make my own tradition, but its just me, so its not the same.
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