The Spirit of May Faire

By Skye Chamberlain, Fifth Grade teacher

 

It is the month of May
When merry children play
Let every lad and lass
Come dance upon the grass

So sang the village children as the blossoms were wound around the tall pole that would be set up in the middle of the common to begin the day of dancing and festivities on the first day of May. In agrarian communities, the end of winter was celebrated with joy and relief. New lambs, calves and goats showed promise of bounty in the future. As the fickle wind and weather of March and early April gave way to the gentle breezes and blossoms of May and the first new foods began to vary the winter table, people crawled out of winter hibernation, put on their finery and met in their communities to make merry and raise their voices in song.

The celebration of the first day of the month of May, called Mayfair or Beltane, is a tradition with deep roots in the soil of pre-Christian Europe. Unlike the more solemn holidays of early spring, May Day was a time for rejoicing and looking forward to the happy summer days to come. The festival has its origin in pagan times as a rite to insure an abundant harvest at Samhain, half a year away. This magic mood of regeneration is never very far beneath the surface in later celebrations. Girls would wake before dawn to wash their faces in the first dew of the happy day to be forever beautiful and young. Boys and  girls alike would don their best and brightest and come to town hoping to catch the eye of the one they fancied, and many a match was made on the first of May. A young May King and Queen were often chosen to preside over their subjects.

As the day proceeds, ivy is knotted into crowns and dancers bow and bend to their partners like swaying branches. The May Tree or May Pole is hoisted into the air amid shouts of triumph. Weaving the ribbons together reweaves the bonds of the community and renews their ties, one to the other. If King Winter is lurking, the celebrants are ready, Morris dance sticks in hand, to give him a good  drubbing and chase him out of town!

On Saturday, May 6th, Bright Water Waldorf School celebrates May Faire! Come out of hibernation after this long and chilly winter and join with classmates, parents, community and friends to celebrate. Dress to impress! Bring armloads of flowers, light feet and newly washed faces. Crown making begins at 10:00 with dancing to follow. Shake off the cobwebs and come celebrate May! 

 

* Time-lapse image courtesy of Jackie Borges