Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Maypole Artz

Wednesday is May 1st also known as May Day. This is where you will find the tradition of the Maypole.  Germanic in origin the Maypole is found throughout Europe and parts of North America. 

 From medieval time up through the Early Modern Period it was part of the festivities of May Day. The origin of the Maypole has long been lost and forgotten but the tradition has remained.  In Germany and Austria it was custom for young men to erect a small Maypole in the front of the homes of the girls they were sweet for during the night of April 30.

In 1628 a Maypole was erected near New Plymouth Massachusetts. An official officer, William Bradford of the king of England wrote about it.
"They also set up a May-pole, drinking and dancing about it many days togaether, inviting the Indean women, for their consorts, dancing and frisking togither, (like so many fairies, or furies rather,) and worse practises. As if they had anew revived & celebrated the feasts of the Roman Goddes Flora, or the beasly practieses of the madd Bacchinalians. Morton likwise (to shew his poetrie) composed sundry rimes & verses, some tending to lasciviousnes, and others to the detraction & scandall of some persons, which he affixed to this idle or idoll May-polle. They changed also the name of their place, and in stead of calling it Mounte Wollaston, they call it Merie-mounte, as if this joylity would have lasted ever. But this continued not long, for after Morton was sent for England, shortly after came over that worthy gentleman, Mr. John Indecott, who brought a patent under the broad seall, for the governmente of the Massachusets, who visiting those parts caused the May-polle to be cutt downe, and rebuked them for their profannes, and admonished them to looke ther should be better walking; so they now, or others, changed the name of their place againe, and called it Mounte-Dagon."

Bradford, William (1856). History of Plymouth. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. pp. 237–238

This week we present the Maypole Artz in honor of this long standing but almost forgotten practice. 

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