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  • Writer's picturePaula Wesselmann

The Enchantment of A Maypole

One of my favorite childhood memories was when I lived on Anna Maria Island along the coastline of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. I was in the first grade and my class was preparing for a May 1st celebration where we would dance and sing around a tall palm tree that represented a maypole, a symbolic depiction of the tree of life. The older children decorated the palm tree with flowers and colorful ribbons hanging from the top. When May 1st arrived, the boys and girls in my class were paired and as we sang a maypole song, we weaved a multicolored pattern of ribbons that crept steadily down what represented the pole. It was a magical moment as we sang . . .

Walk around the Maypole to welcome in the spring.

Walk around the Maypole, together we will sing.

Walk into the middle and walk back out again.

Walk into the middle and walk back out again.

While I danced, I found myself lost in my imagination. A short time later, I sat with my classmates in the grass and watched the older children dance and sing a traditional May Day song about a branch given to them by a fairy. As the Florida sun warmed my face, I weaved a bracelet of dandelions and later a colorful floral May crown to wear the rest of the day.

The first recorded instance of a maypole dance came during the 14th century in Llanidloes, central Wales. The Romans also celebrated it as a festival of flowers as they recognized the goddess, Flora. When the maypole spread throughout the world, each country had its colors, traditions, and special meaning attached to it. To me, dancing around the maypole was magical. I was dancing with the fairies, where engaging moments filled my mind with wonderment and limitless dreams. I wish you all this May, the joys of your childhood.

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