Thursday, 7 May 2009

Traditional English May Day

PhotoStory Friday


Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek


May Day traditionally, is steeped in history and celebrations go back before the middle ages, probably even before then.

Isn't the chap below a strapping young lad? He plays the melodion, which is like a miniature accordion, very well.



I was recently following the above group, Jack in the Green, together with a good few Morris Dancers, who had walked right across the city. They do this every year come rain or shine, on the first Saturday following May 1st. This year because my son, Sam was involved, I decided to go with them, though not the whole distance, as I thought it was too far for Millie to walk, though Amber did manage the complete route, being a bit older.



Here they are, my family, flowers in hair. Not Sam!



The tall Christmas tree like object that is moving in front of the procession is called a Jack! Anyone who gets too close to him has a dab of green daubed onto their nose! I got caught, as did most people!



Amber had borrowed another child's outfit for a while. She will have her own next year. A pity about her ear poking that I have only just noticed! Oh well, don't they say, never work with children or animals!



I was talking to a member of this group, who said that in early Victorian times, chimney sweeps were quite poor and it was against the law to beg or busk. On May Day, they coloured their faces green and dressed up and collected a lot of money through dancing, that helped them through hard times. Nobody recognized them, so that was how this particular group was started. You can see that the fiddler is dressed in a chimney sweep outfit, to carry on the tradition. You can read more about Jack in the Green here. There are so many legends attached to it and I have only scraped the surface.


When we had walked through a very busy main road and risked the Saturday traffic, which often ground to a halt because of us all, we eventually arrived in a lovely green park, where more dancing took place and then suddenly, the Jack was set upon and smashed up by all the bystanders and everyone rushed forward to take flowers and ivy off the framework. Fortunately, the group let the man who was operating the Jack, out first!

It was a lovely warm, sunny day and we had a very pleasant time and I will definitely go again next year.







Photostory Friday is hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek.

36 comments:

Thumbelina said...

Wow - there is loads of traditional stuff going on around you all the time! Do we live in the same country at all? lol

Great post.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Oh, I so wish I could have been there too! This is wonderful! Thanks for sharing!!! I love your posts!! And so look forward to them! Have a wonderful weekend! ~Janine XO

Eddie Bluelights said...

Fascinating! I bet it was really interesting being there.
They look like something out of MacBeth. Burnham Wood marching and all that!
How blessed we are to have all this tradition coursing through our veins.
You'll make a Morris Dancer out of me yet!

Cheryl said...

This looks so much fun. How special, the tradition that goes with it is just wonderful. I never heard of this, but I was so interested!

Your photos, as always are so beautiful. You really captured the spirit of the day.
XXXX

Valleys Mam said...

Lovely pictures and thanks for the memory of what we used to celebrate and why - we should fight harder to keep our traditions

The Girl From Cherry Blossom Street said...

I love traditions! I would love to have been there!
That little girl is adorable.

Ryanne said...

I had one idea what kind of things went along with May Day. It isn't celebrated here all that much. Great travel log!

Wayne said...

Some great tradition stuff going on there.

great photo friday

OvaGirl said...

Thankyou maggie, great pictures and what a fantastic festival and tradition.

Michelle said...

Great PSF! Looks like a lot of fun!

Nessa said...

That looks like so much fun.

lakeviewer said...

Lovely celebrations.

Eddie Bluelights said...

What a double coincidence! Sniffles and Smiles and I commented at exactly the same time!
We've done this before at Cherry Blossom's on one of her posts. Gives me another excuse to say how much I enjoyed your post.

Jeni said...

Neat story about a tradition I had no idea whatsoever about before reading this.
I had to chuckle too on your comment about "Never to work with children or animal!" Isn't that just the truth though when trying to get a good picture of the little kids and they move at just the same moment you click the shutter! Same with animals! No respect for conserving film -or digital images or some such, huh?

Granny on the Web said...

I thought when I saw the coverage in our local paper about Hastings' Jack in the Green, what a good post it would make, just haven't got round to it, so now after your excellent coverage and 'on-the-spot' photo's, that is suffice.
I can't bear to be amongst the crowds we get these days. When the children were little I used to take them to all the local events. I love the Morris Dancers.
Great post.
Love Granny

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

I love our English traditions and can imagine it was a very enjoyable day Maggie. I particularly like Morris dancers, I am totally fascinated by them - such fun! A x

Leah said...

Cool, I've never seen that before!

Alex the Girl said...

My favorite photo story yet. Awesome photos as well.

Carrie and Troy Keiser said...

Very cool thanks for sharing on of the origins of May Day. I always learn something here.

Bina said...

I have never heard of that before, ever. I have always heard of May Day, but here, you get things together, put them in a basket, and hang it on someone's door. I've heard of a May Pole, but don't remember that is, and I know you talked it! LOL

That looks like so much fun! I love the costumes, too. Very cool!

Suburbia said...

Maggie, was this in Bristol? A few years ago we came across this troupe, or one like them, outside the Arnolfini. They looked spectacular, but Tall Girl (who was then not so tall!) was scared of Jack and hid behind me until they had passed by!

Love Sam's T shirt!

Sx

Wendy said...

Looks like fun! I wish we celebrated Mayday here in Canada. I like the ancient festivals. They were so closely linked with the Earth, gardening and seasons.

Never mind about your granddaughter poking her ear. It makes the pic look very real. Not just any old pic - your living, breathing, girl-child pic!

SandyCarlson said...

What an interesting place, your country. Gorgeous stuff.

Gail said...

What great photos. The decorated tree (?) looks very much like a dalek draped in foliage.

Mickle in NZ said...

Dear Maggie. Thank you for teaching me so much.

Sam's Teeshirt is a classic!

On the equivalent here of Radio 4 the presenter just advised that today (9th of May) is "Lost Sock Memorial Day". Confess I immediately thought of your dear Daughter's collection.

Laughter, care and huggles, Michelle and Zebbycat, snuggly warm inside - is cold out there tonight.

Indrani said...

I love to read such details of your traditions. It was a very interesting read. :)

MarmiteToasty said...

It looks fantastic :)

Our village had maypole dancing and morris blokes..... and the batteries in me camera died :(

x

The Girl From Cherry Blossom Street said...

Happy mother's day weekend, Maggie May!

Rose said...

This was fascinating, Maggie May! I checked out the link to learn a little more about this custom as well. Here in the US the only kind of celebration that even comes close is the maypole dance, which is becoming less common. Although Wikipedia traces it back to medieval times, it seems more Celtic, doesn't it?

Just saw Eddie's comment about Birnam Wood marching to Dunsinane in Macbeth--I like that!

david mcmahon said...

I'd never heard of a melodion before!

Retiredandcrazy said...

Maggie, do you realise that you have written 5000 blogs? Whew! Congratulations.

Working mum said...

Great post! I loved reading about all these traditions - how come I didn't know half of this stuff? Thank you for educating me.

Reminded me of the Whit Walks round here at the end of May. I have fond memories of "Walking Day" as a child. Must post about that sometime.....

SandyCarlson said...

Maggie,
Just stopped by to get your blog address and add you to my blog roll. You sure do enrich my day!

Syren said...

Thankyou for the photos - lovely to get the feeling of Spring while we are starting to shiver over here.

imbeingheldhostage said...

That is so wonderful! I'm heading your way next year-- there was NOTHING down here.
Thanks for posting this :-)

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