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01.05.19 Faith and Friendship Blog

Today, we learnt about May Day and how it is celebrated in the UK and around the world. May Day is on 1st May; however, there is also a May Day bank holiday on the first Monday in May each year. It was traditionally a day off for workers to celebrate the beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere. In Gaelic, Celtic and Pagan traditions, it is called ‘Beltane’; in Wales, the festival is called ‘Calan Mai’. Both ‘Beltane’ and ‘Calan Mai’ are celebrated by burning bonfires. May queens and kings are girls and boys chosen to lead the May Day processions. They are often dressed in very formal clothes. In the past, when a carnival happened, a ‘Lord and Lady’ or ‘King and Queen’ would be chosen. Most May queens and kings wear crowns made of flowers to show the arrival of summer. Some festivals and events even have a crowning ceremony for the queens and kings. The tradition of dancing around the maypole is said to be linked to dancing around a real tree to celebrate the coming of summer. No one really knows exactly when this tradition began. In modern times, maypoles are very tall, wooden poles with multi-coloured ribbons attached to the top, which are woven by dancers. The Yorkshire villages of Nun Monkton and Barwick-in-Elmet boast the two tallest maypoles in the UK. Morris dancers across the country ‘dance up the dawn’ on the morning of 1st May in order to welcome in the summer. The dancing starts around 5:00 a.m. until the sun is up at around 5:30 a.m. Then, most Morris teams plan to go for a hearty breakfast. Festivals, fetes and events happen all over the country to celebrate May Day and the beginning of summer as they have done for hundreds of years. All events tend to include dancing, music, maypoles and lots of greenery.

We used the laptops to research May Day and made our own PowerPoints and fact sheets to share with our classes.