Bringing in the May - an ancient English custom to welcome springtime

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  1. Glenis Rix profile image96
    Glenis Rixposted 4 years ago

  2. Nathanville profile image93
    Nathanvilleposted 4 years ago

    Yep, a great day to celebrate:  May Day of old, Morris Dancing and Maypole Dancing; which is still practiced in some villages around Britain, particularly Somerset and Cornwall.

    The History of May Day and Labour Day Animated Guide:

    May Day Celebrations at Elstow, Bedfordshire, England (1939):

    May Day Celebration, Morris Dancing and Maypole Dancing at Priston, Somerset, England (2016):

    1. wilderness profile image95
      wildernessposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      While spring has usually been a time of celebration, it has not always been so everywhere.

      When Thomas Morton, leader of the Merry Mount colony in the very early states, erected a giant maypole and the citizens made merry, Gov. William Bradford (from the Puritan colony) was horrified by the ‘beastly practices of ye mad Bacchanalians.’  The puritans came to MerryMount where they arrested Morton, chopped down the Maypole and sent Morton back to England.

      1. Nathanville profile image93
        Nathanvilleposted 4 years agoin reply to this

        Thanks wilderness, a bit of history I didn't know; so I found the Wikipedia Article on Thomas Morton educational and enlightening.

        1. wilderness profile image95
          wildernessposted 4 years agoin reply to this

          Yes, human efforts to control how others behave is both sad and enlightening.  And frightening, for there is always somebody, somewhere, that will think we are misbehaving and make that attempt to control us.

          1. Nathanville profile image93
            Nathanvilleposted 4 years agoin reply to this

            Yes, that’s a whole subject fraught with difficulties; as intervening in the affairs of others on perceived moral grounds, or because they are acting contrary to your own beliefs or values can be controversial in that one side is acting as judge and jury upon the other side; and it can be argued “who has the right” to decide what is “right”?

            Examples might be:-

            #1.    If bullies pick on someone because they are different, should those bullies be stopped?

            Certainly, in European law this general principle is extended to protect against ‘religious persecution’ and prejudice against the disabled, elderly, ethnic minorities etc., e.g. ‘hate crime’, which is a criminal offence in Europe.

            I know many Americans pour scorn on the European ‘hate crimes’ because they perceive it as infringing on ‘freedom of speech’; but that seems to be an example of where ‘cultural values’ differ between our two nations!

            #2.    Infringement of ‘Human Rights’, ‘political oppression’, or child slavery practiced by some countries; should other countries intervene, and if so, to what degree?   Should we use ‘sanctions’, ‘political pressure’, ‘diplomatic pressure’ and or war etc.?

            There are many other areas (related topics) where similar questions are posed, and finding the right balance is nigh on impossible because people will never agree; especially if they’re from different cultures with different social and cultural values.

            #3.    Britain, with its Empire, learnt the hard way e.g. Britain over 100 years ago controlled over 25% of the world's population (and at one time America).  Whereas now England is just a small isolated island on the fringes of Europe struggling to keep control of what’s left of the United Kingdom (four nations bound together by Treaties).  After Ireland (the Republic of Ireland) freed itself from English rule in the Irish civil war of the 1920’s England has taken a more pragmatic stance of ‘self-determination’ e.g. if the peoples of Northern Ireland or Scotland wish to become ‘Independent’ of English Rule, they can do so peacefully (via Referendum); albeit, Scotland trying to get England to agree to a 2nd Referendum is proving difficult.

            Nevertheless, the English Government's more pragmatic approach to ‘self-determination’ has led to the Celtic Nations (Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) being given more powers in recent decades; and has even led to England giving official and legal status ‘as a protected minority nation’ to the Celtic peoples of Cornwall in 2014; following a peaceful campaign by the peoples of Cornwall for such a recognition.

            Kernow (Cornwall’s campaign in 2012 for recognition as a Celtic Nation, separate from England):

            Cornwall granted legal ‘national minority status’ by the English Government in 2014:

            The whole question of ‘freedom of choice’ vs ‘interference’ by others is a complex subject, but I’m sure you have your own views on it!

            My personal ‘rule of thumb’ is that if ‘personal freedoms’ don’t harm others’ then there shouldn’t be a major issue; but if the action of one ‘in the name of personal freedom’ harms others’, then there is an issue.  Albeit, debating the rights and wrongs of that issue is another matter!

            1. Glenis Rix profile image96
              Glenis Rixposted 4 years agoin reply to this

              On the whole I agree with your final paragraph, Arthur.  However, I think precedence of individual human rights over the good of society as a whole sometimes goes too far. Individualism was a concept that didn’t exist prior to the age of Enlightenment.

              1. Nathanville profile image93
                Nathanvilleposted 4 years agoin reply to this

                Yep, striking the right balance is always tricky; especially when it comes to things like 'political correctness':-

                When I was a Trade Union Rep., I'd always write 'chairperson' in my minutes, rather than 'chairman' out of respect for equality.  Some circumvented the issue by just writing 'chair', but I find 'chair' so impersonal.

                Although it becomes a bit more of a mouthful when you start trying to say things like 'post person' or 'milk person' instead of postman and milkman; and there doesn't seem to be a suitable alternative for the word 'mankind'.

                In our parliament, personally, I quite like the 'political correctness' used there, although many others feel its a step too far; and at times it probably is.

                I guess the old saying, used by President Lincoln is quite apt:

                " can't please all of the people all of the time".

              2. wilderness profile image95
                wildernessposted 4 years agoin reply to this

                It is a balancing act for sure, and both worldwide and in our country has tipped on both sides of the fence over differing matters.  From barking dogs to owning guns, from prohibition or blue laws to abortions the question is always present.

                A big part of that question, however, is over simple control vs the "good of society"; virtually all efforts at mere control (very common) are claimed to be for the "good" of everyone...with "good" being defined by the one wishing to control others.

                1. Nathanville profile image93
                  Nathanvilleposted 4 years agoin reply to this

                  Yes, a lot of it comes down to “Social Values” defined as “A set of moral principles defined by society”.   Periodically Parliament and the Courts in the UK will redefine the ‘morale values’ in law to reflect changing British attitudes to Morale and Social Issues over time. 

                  Example in British Society where moral and social attitudes have change over time include:-

                  #1.    Back in the 1970’s most British people thought that homosexuality was immoral, whereas these days most British people don’t.

                  #2.    Decades ago blood sports was considered socially acceptable in Britain, but as attitudes changed, so did the law e.g. fox hunting being made illegal in 2004.

                  1. wilderness profile image95
                    wildernessposted 4 years agoin reply to this

                    Particularly #1 is a problem for me, for I don't see this as much a moral issue as one of control.  Morality does not include, IMO, forcing others to do as I think they should when their actions have no impact on me.

    2. Glenis Rix profile image96
      Glenis Rixposted 4 years agoin reply to this
  3. CHRIS57 profile image60
    CHRIS57posted 4 years ago

    Aren´t all people in the Northern Hemisphere welcoming springtime in May with some kind of a tradition? 

    All over Germany we are setting up Maypoles. The extra trick is to steal the Maypole from neighbouring communities. Leads to the installation of Maypole guards. The only trade currency is alcoholic beverages to get back a stolen Maypole.

    A video from Austria on logistics and technology to set up a Maypole:

    In these times of climate change some folksongs about May and trees with green leaves may have to be rewritten to April.

    1. Nathanville profile image93
      Nathanvilleposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      Yep, you are right; the first video in my post above, which gives a brief overview of it's history (worldwide) does cover that point.

      I love your Austrian video.

      Very good point about Climate Change; I grow all of our vegetables (except potatoes) in our back garden, and in recent years the growing season (for summer crops) where I live in south west England has certainly shifted considerably e.g. it's use to be April to September, now it's from March until October.


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