Happy May Day

My aunt sent this photo of my late mom taking part in May Day festivities in 1936 at Westwood Grammar School in West Los Angeles. My mom is on the right holding her dress with her back to the camera. She looks a foot taller than her classmates.

Someone tell me if May poles are still a thing?

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  1. They did this at my kid’s school today (crowns and all). As a parent it was absolutely adorable to watch and the kids where all smiles hamming it up…. but I’ll admit our school edges to the earthier/granola-er side of the spectrum. I doubt “No Child Left Behind” has a section about May Day dance prowess.

  2. May poles and May baskets were a thing in the 1950s when I was in elementary school. I remember really enjoying them–as a symbol of the end of winter and the beginning of spring. But things were different then. Now, someone would probably complain that such activities are part of some conspiracy cooked up by environmentalists.

  3. It is still a thing at the women’s college, Bryn Mawr College. It is a fun an beautiful ceremony, but given the obvious symbolism of the may pole, some students also do may hole dances.

  4. May poles (Maibäume) are definitely still a thing in Austria. They are set up on May 1 and stay up for a few months, usually on the main square of a town or city (there are even several in Vienna). I’ve never actually seen people dance around one – drinking beer is more like it.

    And this year there was chainsaw sabotage too. Even if you can’t read German, check out the pictures here:

  5. In rural Hungary Maypoles are still common. There is also a tradition of putting them in private gardens where there is a marriageable daughter in the house.

  6. At my kids’ public Waldorf school, May poles are a thing, complete with flower crowns and botched weaving of colourful streamers.

  7. Our best friends had a May pole and dance at their wedding about 15 years back, up at Ocean Song in West Sonoma County. So much fun.

  8. (1) May Day was a thing at my oldest sister’s high school in the South; she spent several Mays doing tumbling acts and so on before she finally got promoted to be a Maypole dancer. By the time I came along, however (6 years younger and a different high school), nothing like this was happening.

    (2) Would you believe that Jane Austen’s family had a Maypole?? True story; a November 1800 letter of hers, reporting damage after a storm at the family rectory in Hampshire, notes that “the Maypole…was broke in two.”

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