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Monday, May 1, 2017

May Day is probably best known now for the medieval tradition of "dancing the maypole dance," a custom that continues to be practiced. Young maidens circle the decorated pole weaving together patterns of ribbons in the process. Hawthorne and lily of the valley are traditional flowers used for garland. Similar ribbon dances were performed in pre-Columbian Latin America and were later incorporated into Hispanic ritual dances.

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Today's Random Fact:

The pole is thought by some to (not so subtly) represent the masculine, while the decorations of flowers, wreaths and ribbons are thought to symbolize the feminine. Although many scholars assert that sometimes a tree is just a tree - the pole was not a phallic symbol, but rather a nod to the sacred nature of the tree.

Persecution of May Day festivities began as early as the 1600s, and in 1640 the Church ruled against the debauchery when the British Parliament banned the traditions as immoral. A much tamer version was brought back in 1644 under the rule of Charles II.

Some beliefs held that May Day was the last chance for fairies to travel to the Earth.

Bonus Fact:

The international distress signal, "mayday," has nothing to do with the first of May. It derives from the French venez m'aider, meaning "come help me."

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