Maypole

A maypole is a tall pole with ribbons attached to the top which people dance around to celebrate  May Eve or Beltane, and occasionally Midsummer. The festival tradition of Germanic pagans.

The Pole

Originally the pole was a living tree that was danced around. The more recent poles are usually made of maple, hawthorn or birch. Ribbons can be many colors  but are typically symbolic colors according to the tradition. The pole design might be plain or decorated with wreathes and flowers. One popular design has a wreath at the top of the pole held up by the ribbons extended in all directions, and as the dancers circle the pole the wreath moves down the pole.

The Dance

The maypole dance begins with the dancers standing in a circle around the pole alternating male and female. The males all turn to face one direction and the females the other. When the dance begins, alternating dancers move in opposite directions ducking under and over each others ribbons so that the the ribbons weave  down the pole. They might sing as they dance or drummers or other musicians join in too.

Symbolism

One theory is that they were remains of the Germanic deep respect for sacred trees,according to the evidence of various sacred trees and wooden pillars that were venerated by the pagans across much of Germanic Europe, such as Thor’s Oak and the Irminsul. The Maypole also may represent Yggdrasil (Nordic world tree).The maypole is also often considered a phallic symbol and the dance and the weaving of the ribbons a symbolic demonstration of the union of God and Goddess ( sex ). The tradition of men preparing and bringing the pole and women digging the hole enhances this idea.

 

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