Appalachia Folk Dancing

Dancing Around The May Pole

Dancing Around the Maypole JCCFS

Earlier this week when I was listing the things that May brings to mind-I totally forgot one-The May Pole.

The tradition of dancing around the may pole

Sometime during the last of April-strange things start happening around Brasstown-you know like top hats growing ferns around their edges. There’s a rush on all the thrift stores-from people looking for white clothing-and it seems colorful ribbons wave around everywhere you look.

Me and the girls always look forward to being part of the John C. Campbell Folk School’s May Pole Celebration. This year we just couldn’t seem to make it work-first there was a choral performance at school-then I got the practice day mixed up-then the end of semester homework blues took a hold of us.

I had last year’s May Pole Celebration on video so we watched it and remembered how fun the day was-and told ourselves next year we’d make sure to be part of the joy again.

If you couldn’t tell-I’m the one holding hands with the least May Pole Dancer; Chatter of course has her cowboy boots on; and Chitter is between the Green Man and the Morris Dancer when we’re going around the pole.

So have you ever danced around a May Pole?


p.s. The lovely Monica Gatti filmed last year’s May Pole for me-THANK YOU Monica 🙂


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  • Reply
    Mia Scott
    May 4, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    May Day & “planting of the may pole ” was a beautiful time in my life at my elementary school in SC. The pastel colors they used were so pretty, to participate made u feel special it was so festive same like everyone around you was happy teachers, principal, parents everyone was happy & busy without complaints.Yes i remember it like yesterday and i will never forget that intrim of time in my life yes that was one for the expression the “good old days!!” : ).

  • Reply
    Mary Holcomb Brock
    May 4, 2012 at 6:42 am

    I too danced around the May Pole as a child in Chesnee SC during the 40s.
    We were told it was a pagan tradition as we aged but was a harmless way to enjoy the Springtime and each other.
    Loved it and enjoyed the video. Thank you Mary

  • Reply
    May 3, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    I had danced around the May Pole when I was 9 years old. It’s pretty when the colored streamers cover the pole with a pretty pattern. I thought about it on may 1st because that’s the day we had always done it with our colourful dresses to match.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    May 3, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    I remember(too little, too late) you posting about this last year & was determined to go. Hopefully, next year. Looks like so much fun!

  • Reply
    May 3, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    Tipper, this brings back memories in time to 1954 when we danced the may pole in marble elementary School. We all had on color pastells dreses mine was rose pin with ribbons straming down my light golden hair. I loved it and we dance before the entire school on the school grounds which now houses some of Marble springs Baptist church now. Several classes of girls danced. thanks for you bring our memories to mind.

  • Reply
    Connie Arnold
    May 3, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Hadn’t heard anything about a Maypole in a long time. That looks like fun!

  • Reply
    May 3, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Uhmmm, nope. Although I’m surprised I didn’t do so wayyy back in my Hippie days. Lord only knows, I did pretty much everything else (legal) back then. LOL
    God bless.

  • Reply
    s kalvaitis
    May 3, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    I have never danced around a May pole but it sure looks like fun. I would love to do it and would like to know where I can learn what it is about and why do you do it. I like that the Green Man was included. I like him a lot. Can you tell me where to go to learn about the May Pole? Thanks Much. S

  • Reply
    May 3, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Thanks to Monica for filming this
    fun event so we could all see. I
    noticed the joy on the little one’s faces getting to participate
    with the grown-ups. I had never
    seen exactly what happened before.
    This was nice…Ken

  • Reply
    May 3, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    For those that are inquisitive like myself about holiday traditions etc., I thought that I would share an informative video which includes the May Pole, it’s ancient roots and it’s original meaning to our ancestors who preformed it.
    I offer this as information ONLY. What each person enjoys or rejects is academic to me and up to them. It is, however, a very well researched piece and worth watching for a fuller understanding of how these traditions came down to us in their ancient historical context.

  • Reply
    Charles Ronald Perry, Sr
    May 3, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Thanks Tipper, it was fun to watch that and it is something that your daughter will have forever.

  • Reply
    May 3, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Yes. When I was in elementary school the May Day festival was a big deal. The 8th grade girls always got to plait the Maypole, but all of us got to dance around it.

  • Reply
    May 3, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Oh what fun! Wish I could go watch this some day. My kids all did the Maypole in the early 60’s here in the primary school. It was beautiful. They don’t do it anymore nor have they in years. They didn’t have that wonderful parade and that is what made your video.

  • Reply
    May 3, 2012 at 10:13 am

    What a wonderful thing to watch! We never see anything like this in our neck of the woods. Love the music too!

  • Reply
    Tim Cuthbertson
    May 3, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Yes, I remember dancing around May poles when I was a child, back in the 1950’s. I haven’t thought about it in years.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 3, 2012 at 9:36 am

    I danced the May Pole as a kid in school. It was fun but I don’t think I had any idea of it’s tradition and it’s history.
    I am just so in awe at all you and the girls do. It’s ok to miss one thing occasionally.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 3, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Tipper you missed the greatest May 1st celebration of all. It was take off your shoes and forget where you put ’em day.

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    May 3, 2012 at 9:05 am

    That really looked like fun. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Pam Moore
    May 3, 2012 at 9:00 am

    DD attended a Waldorf school for many years. Every year they had a Spring Festival with Maypole dancing. Everyone dressed in white or pastels. The children made wreaths for their heads with flowers and ribbons. A potluck picnic and a chicken that picked the Festival king and queen (all the kids were given a handful of feed and the child the chicken first approached won).
    Good memories!

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    May 3, 2012 at 9:00 am

    That looks like so much fun….I loved how the group came down the hill…If I remember correctly the stone path is thru a light wooded area leading between the craft store/cafeteria parking and another building on the left..Then I suppose the parade goes on out into the large field..It’s so pretty there!
    I danced around the May pole once when I was in grade school….It was very hard..we practiced forever in the gym before May Day…We had to remember which person we were supposed to go over and then the next under in order to wrap the ribbons around the May pole all the way down, in sort of a plait or braid!…Some teachers got very picky if you happen to tangle the ribbon..which I did…LOL I was constantly yelling May Day, May Day when I tangled the ribbon! Not really, but could have since this was in the 1940’s…LOL The devil made me throw that into the story…sorry!
    I sure love the way your May pole dances were done and it got to include more people in the dance…
    Thanks for the memories…

  • Reply
    May 3, 2012 at 8:54 am

    I have danced around the May Pole. We used to look forward to the first day of May every year in elementary school. The girls would make wreaths to wear on our heads like crowns. Your celebration seemed like so much fun. Thanks for bringing back such a pleasant memory of childhood.

  • Reply
    May 3, 2012 at 8:47 am

    i can’t type i am up marching around to the sound of the music. great fun and no i have never danced around one.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    May 3, 2012 at 8:22 am

    I have never done a May Pole, although I have heard about them all my life.

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    May 3, 2012 at 8:11 am

    Can’t recall ever having danced around the Maypole, but it does look fun for the particpants.

  • Reply
    May 3, 2012 at 7:52 am

    What fun! I joined a May Pole dance once at a Medieval Fair. The two circles of dancers wove back and forth past each other as we went around; at the end the ribbons were woven around the whole length of the pole.
    I wish we had a May Pole dance in this area every year – you are so blessed to have the JCCSF there keeping traditions alive!

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    May 3, 2012 at 7:50 am

    I can remember wrapping the May Pole at Almond Elementary School. We enjoyed it since it gave us a chance to get out of class and into the outdoors. If I recall correctly our “May Pole” spent the rest of the year cleverly disguised as a “Tether-Ball Pole”.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    May 3, 2012 at 7:24 am

    We were just talking about the May pole and how we used to love it when we were kids…then it stopped. I always wondered if it had something to do with it being a Russian holiday, this was in the early 60’s

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