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Maypole Dancing

Maypoles were well established by the 14th century perhaps as a visible and convenient centrepiece to dance around and celebrate the coming of Spring. They must already have been regarded as ‘pagan fertility symbols’ by the time the Puritans turned up to denounce them as ‘stynking ydols’ and ordered them all to be destroyed. However the tradition survived – and the ‘circle dances’ survive to this day, to some extent, in the performance of morris dancers on May Day. The origins of the more familiar ribbon dances remain obscure but it is thought that after the Reformation May capers became so popular that they were incorporated into stage and court theatricals and the ribbon dances developed simply to make a better show. Today maypole dancing is almost exclusively a children’s thing. The only adults we have seen were at Ickwell where the local school fields juniors, seniors and former pupils (inevitably dressed up in Laura Ashley dresses with smocks for the men). The idea of NW Morris or Rapper dancers doing it is beyond imagination.