The Music of May Day!
Happy Spring, Kindermusik lovers! May is historically celebrated as a springtime festival in many countries, with singing, dancing, games, and much more. Sometime in the 19th century, May Day also became a celebration of the worker, a sort of mid-year version of Labor Day. Today, we’ll explore some of the traditions of this day, and the music associated with it. Get your May Poles ready!
One of the longest standing traditions of May Day is the May Pole and May Pole dancing. Here’s the basic premise: a large pole, usually located in the center of town or in a park, around which people dance and sing, often wrapping colorful ribbons around the pole. The music associated is pure folk and represents the culture from which it arose. In the UK, Come Lassies and Lads calls all to the May Pole for an energetic, day-long dance.
While Labor Day is also celebrated at the beginning of May, Spain, and many Hispanic America countries celebrate springtime festivals at this time as well, complete with music, dancing, and parades. In Spain, young boys would climb up the Maypole to retrieve a flag while girls would dance below.
Different “Mays” are sung to different people, from the Virgin Mary to girls of the town or village. The music is always celebratory and welcoming of warm springtime weather. Here, we see the traditional Maypole, and women, dressed in traditional attire, dancing in the streets during Los Mayos in Madrid, Spain.