April 26, 2015

Maypole Dance Break: My Pagan Childhood



As a child, I attended an Episcopal elementary school.  Although the church in our school was quite beautiful, as were many of the ceremonies, some of the stuff was just plain disturbing.

Take the high priests, or head honchos as I called them, that attended services from time to time.  These men always arrived at church looking like this:


This totally scared the hell out of me because as a child I watched a Spanish subtitled movie (you know, without the parental permission) entitled The Inquisition.  In the movie, the Inquisitors cut out the tongue of a young woman who was accused of being a heretic.  This was frightening to me as an eight year old child, especially when some of these same dudes from the movie showed up at my church to perform a service.

You see, I got the giggles a lot as a child, matter of fact, I still get the giggles a lot - it's a blonde thing.  And sometimes, that said giggling occurred in church.  I never knew when something, which practically anything, would make me giggle.

I could just imagine giggling in church and one of the pointy hat men yelling:


Not cool.

Another thing that scared me, or scares me to this day, is something I thought of tonight as May 1st quickly approaches.  It was a little tradition we had in elementary school around the 1st of May every year - a large celebration of harvest and summer's approach which included....

The Maypole Dance.


For those of you unfamiliar with this ritual, you dance around a pole holding a ribbon in your hand, wrapping the ribbons around the pole.  The traditional dress is a white robe of some sort with a belt around the waist.  The origins of the dance, PAGAN IN NATURE, are Germanic, much noted as a pagan fertility ritual.  The Maypole itself is considered a phallic symbol.  Pagans would often perform the Maypole Dance naked.  And when the pilgrims brought this tradition over to America from Europe, they would dance around the Maypole and drink, be frivolous and engage in "frivolities" - if you know what I mean.

WHY ON EARTH WAS I AS A CHILD PERFORMING THIS NAKED BABY DANCE?



I mean, this was just all sorts of wrong.  And I was forced to do it year after year, until I joined recorder ensemble.  Yes, recorder ensemble, that strange plastic instrument of the 80s found in every elementary school in America.  My husband got a guffaw out of my recorder ensemble backstory.

Me:  Yeah, I had to dance around that stupid Maypole every year.  Did you?

Husband:  No.  I was Catholic.  We didn't participate in that paganism.

Me:  Well, I finally got to stop once I joined recorder ensemble.

Husband reaction:


Husband: Those things were horrible (more laughter).

Me:  Well....

He was right.  Just a plastic instrument of screeching hell when played by anyone under the age of 10.


Anyway, the Maypole Dance was just weird.

Did you perform The Maypole Dance as a child? Do your children perform this dance in school? Let me know in the comments below!

Dancing under the Maypole I am,





7 comments:

  1. I never did this.

    But I DID get the giggles a lot. I got in trouble :/ I was separated from friends a lot because of it.

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  2. Pretty sure my little brother, 31, still has his recorder. Those were the days...

    But a big no on the Maypole dance! Although I always thought the ribbons were so pretty :)

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    1. Lmao. I had two! An alto and a soprano.
      Nerd for dayzzzzzz.

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  3. I never danced around a Maypole but always wanted to. I remember references to Maypoles in books I read as a child. I also remember May baskets, baskets of flowers that you left at a neighbors house? I might have tried that. This kind of reference has all but died out as far as I know in the US. I was child in the 60s so the books I read from the library were undoubtably older. When did you do this and where?

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    1. I did it in the 80s and in the U.S. I'm pretty sure a few schools around my hometown still do this! Southern part of the country!

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    2. Omg I remember making may baskets too!! Blast from the past.

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