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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Maypole Festivals: Dancing To Celebrate Spring

Never did the woods ring to such a merry peal as we of the Maypole shall send up!" cry the pagans in Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story "The Maypole of Merry Mount." In the story, set in the 1630's, Puritan spoilsports soon arrive to chop down the pole. But for today's maypole dancers, things usually go more smoothly.

The May Day dance may seem a trifle outdated, but every spring in communities here and there across America, celebrants follow the ancient custom, erecting a maypole, usually cedar or birch, and dancing around it, typically weaving colorful ribbons around the pole as they go. Sometimes the dancers are just celebrating springtime; other times the revelry is explicitly tied to pagan fertility rites or ethnic history.

The maypole dance has seduced people in Europe and America for centuries. Full Story

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