Maypole celebration to bid farewell to a cold and windy winter

Apr 25, 2014

The sixth annual Belfast Maypole Dance and Celebration will be held on Sunday, May 4, on the land at Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage on Village Road. The festivities start at noon with participants braiding crowns and garlands of fresh flowers, decorating and setting up the maypole with dance ribbons and sprigs of new greenery, and partaking in light potluck refreshments. Dancers, fiddlers and other musicians are invited to gather at 2 p.m. The dances will be led by the renowned Ellen Gawler of Belgrade Lakes, who has more than 30 years of experience leading and teaching people to weave the streaming ribbons together into different patterns on the maypole. No experience is necessary to be a dancer, though the ability to follow simple directions is useful (for a consistent pattern on the pole). All ages, and especially children, are welcome. Festive springtime attire, and bringing bells or flowers with stems are highly encouraged for those who are in the mood to help spring truly get a foothold, but not at all required.

Maypole dancing and revelry is an ancient folk dance and tradition going back thousands of years, of erecting a maypole, usually cedar or birch, with dancers circling around it, weaving their colorful ribbons together around the pole as they go. Originating in Germany, England and Sweden, these May Day dances have celebrated everything from pagan fertility rites with obvious phallic symbolism, to serving as a form of Christian school-based exercise and celebration of maidens, virtue and other 19th century ideals of womanhood. In the earliest days, these dances were done around a live tree. Later the trees were cut down and stripped of most branches, leaving a few at the very top. The Belfast maypole was cut down 6 years ago on the land at Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage.

Medieval Celts are known to have danced around the pole to ensure a fruitful planting season. Others consider it the coming of age of the new year, and a chance to celebrate springtime. Regardless of why one might dance this year, this is a chance to offer a hearty welcoming in of the summer and bid a no-nonsense farewell to a cold, windy winter. Join in the fun and bring a friend!

For more information, call 505-1633 or email sanna@mainecohousing.org.

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