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GUEST COLUMN: welcome to the merry, merry month of May

Maypole dancing

Maypole dancing

Well here we are in the fifth month of the year already, and it seems only yesterday we were packing away the garish snowman mugs and recycling the Christmas tree, or is it

the other way round?

I am sure time is speeding up, or is it just me slowing down?

So here we are in the month of May! This month is steeped in folklore and tradition

So what does May mean to you?

May Blossom, Bryan May, Maypoles, Maysum?

This is the month when everything wakes up after the long winter, although this year hasn’t been too bad for us. The earth warms up and the days get longer.

Although one must adhere to the old wives’ tale ‘Ne’er cast a clout till May is out’ – don’t throw off that extra layer just yet, it can still be chilly, especially at night.

Although often called the Merry month of May, it was thought to be unlucky to marry whilst may blossom was in flower. Much better to celebrate hen and stag nights this month, making much merriment and then save tying the knot until June just to be on the safe side.

It is the season of Morris dancing, which goes back to Pagan times. It is a celebration of all things new. Their jiggling bells and twirling handkerchiefs lend atmosphere to many a pub beer garden, market square and village green.

Some Morris dancers choose to blacken their faces and wear tattered jackets in remembrance of Chimney Sweep day. In times gone by chimney sweeps were in great demand and took just one day off a year, May Day, so that they could join in the fun to celebrate the arrival of spring, usually with a glass or two of ale.

Maypole dancing is another great tradition, usually performed on May Day by school children.

A former headmistress of a local primary school once posed the question during school assembly – “ What are the holes in the floor for?”

This brought forward a foray of interesting answers from her charges. “It’s where the caretaker keeps his fags miss,” “It’s where the teachers in olden days kept their canes”, “It’s where the dinner ladies hide the dinner money!”

She replied, you are all wrong! It’s where the Maypole was erected if it was too wet for dancing outside. So Maypole dancing must have been on the school curriculum at one time. I wonder what Michael Gove and his Ofsted inspectors would make of that!

I think the Victorians had the right idea.

It was the unpredictable weather over three consecutive years that led to the folding of the Kimberley May Festival.

This was always a great day out, plenty to see and do. The parade was watched by many proud parents as Sunday schools, Cubs, Scouts and nursery groups dressed in themed costumes and rode on decorative floats provided by Kimberley Brewery. The day provided many subjects for budding photographers. The May Queen in all her finery and glittering crown sat on her gold throne presiding over the activities taking place in the arena .

The festival even changed its date and it still rained!!

 

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