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British Life and Culture

by Mandy Barrow

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British life and culture - England, Scotland and Wales
May Day - Maypole Dancing

Introduction to May Day | Maypole Dancing | Morris Dancing

May Day in the Past | May Day Today | Well Dressing

A traditional May Day dance is Maypole Dancing.

Maypole dancing

On May Day, people used to cut down young trees and stick them in the ground in the village to mark the arrival of summer.

People danced around the tree poles in celebration of the end of winter and the start of the fine weather that would allow planting to begin.

cMaypole Dancingopyright

Maypoles were once common all over England and were kept from one year to the next. Schools would practice skipping round the pole for weeks before the final show on the village greens.

The end results would be either a beautiful plaited pattern of ribbons round the pole or a tangled cat's cradle, depending on how much rehearsing had been done. copyright of

close up

Maypoles are still a part of some village life and on May Day the villagers dance around it.

Interesting Fact
The tallest maypole is said to have been erected in London on the Strand in 1661; it stood over 143 feet high. It was felled in 1717, when it was used by Isaac Newton to support Huygen's new reflecting telescope.

Another traditional dance you will often see from May is Morris Dancing.

Click on the right arrow below to find out more about May Day
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Introduction to May Day | Maypole Dancing | Morris Dancing

May Day in the Past | May Day Today | Well Dressing

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All the materials on these pages are free for homework and classroom use only. You may not redistribute, sell or place the content of this page on any other website or blog without written permission from the Mandy Barrow.

© Copyright Mandy Barrow 2013

Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website. 
The two websites and are the new homes for the Woodlands Resources.

Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consulatant. 
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.

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