"It requires much art and experience to dance upon the May pole with the garland."

  -Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

   As another winter ends and spring begins, we must prepare for our favorite holiday originally marked by sexual freedom.  No!  Not the Naked Mile!  May-Day! Celebrated annually on May 1, May-Day is originally a holiday that reached its height in popularity in England in the Middle Ages, but was still being celebrated all across England in the eighteenth century.  The origins of May-Day began with the ancient Druids and Celtics but different versions of the holiday were celebrated in countries like Finland, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Macedonia, and Spain. 1 (It is still even celebrated in many parts of these countries today.)

   So what is May-Day like, you ask?  The best comparison we have to today is probably Halloween, as it was the dominant secular holiday of its time.  It was not tied to any religion, church or service, but instead a worship of our connection with nature. 2 And it is all about having fun!  This secular holiday, filled with games and activities, was seen as wild, immoral, sinful and perverse by Puritans. It was so much fun that it was actually banned in 1640. 3 (Thank-you, so much Philip Stubbe for bothering Parliament to put a lid on our fun.)  Obviously, like any good party it is a ton of fun if the police have to show up to put a stop to it.

   Luckily May-Day was brought back in 1644, under the rule of Charles II, 4  and although it didn't have the same sex-crazed, do-what-you-want-in-the-woods-it's-a-free-day-tone that it had in the Middle Ages, 5 it was back as the holiday celebrated in the late 17th and early 18th  century that we know today.

   May-Day's symbol is the giant May-pole, dressed with flowers, usually Hawthornes and Lilies of the Valley. 6  The pole would be erected in the middle of a field or a yard and the main event of the day was for all to dance around the towering pole.  (Easy, Freud). 

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