Called Beltane in the Celtic tradition, May 1st is celebrated in many cultures as the beginning of Summer. One of the most endearing May Day traditions is the making of a Maypole. A Maypole can be as simple or as elaborate as you want to make it. It can be anything from cutting down a dead tree to dance around to just climbing an existing tree and decorating it with ribbon. One year my sons climbed to the top of tall pine trees in our yard and tied ribbons to the branches.
A TALL POLE AND PLENTY OF BEAUTIFUL RIBBON
Look for a big branch or a dead tree or a wooden pole about 10 feet or higher.
Dig a hole big enough and deep enough to support the pole when buried. Cement if necessary.
You’ll need 12 to 18 feet of 1 inch to 2 inch wide ribbon (or streamers or cloth) for each Maypole dancer. Get a variety of colors.
Attach or tie the ribbons to the top of the pole. One way is to make a wire wreath and attach all of the ribbons to the wreath, which can then be attached to the top of the pole. The wreath can be decorated with more ribbons and/or flowers.
Make flower wreaths for the children to wear.
The dance begins as each person holds a ribbon. The even numbered dancers moves clockwise with the ribbon up while the odd numbered dancers move counter-clockwise with the ribbon down. As a dancer passes the first person, he or she moves the ribbon in the opposite direction. Music can be played and mistakes add to the fun. Once the ribbons run out, tie them together at the bottom of the pole.
Peggy O’Mara is the editor and publisher of peggyomara.com. She was the editor and publisher of Mothering Magazine from 1980 to 2011 and founded Mothering.com in 1995. The author of Having a Baby Naturally; Natural Family Living; The Way Back Home; and A Quiet Place, Peggy has conducted workshops at Omega Institute, Esalen, La Leche League, and Bioneers. She is the mother of four and grandmother of two.