Cove School has a tradition that has been in practice since the late 1800s. Every year they hold a May Day musical program that includes a May Day Court (the first graders and seniors) and the winding of the Maypole (performed by the fifth grade class). May Day 2017 was last Thursday.
I first became aware of the May Day program as a Senior at Cove School, when I transferred there from La Grande, but I didn’t really take the time to learn about the tradition at the school or the history of the Maypole. When Reagan was in the fifth grade I finally did some research into the tradition.
There is no concrete “start” to the tradition, but it has been traced back to Germanic pagan traditions, and during Medieval times was wide-spread throughout Germanic Europe. It is also believed that the original festivals were in honor of the Germanic pagan reverence for sacred trees. As with most rituals and traditions, the celebration has evolved and changed over time and by region. At times the celebration was about fertility and new life, and the beginning of Summer.
The celebration of May Day has deep historic roots, as well. It is related to the Celtic festival of Beltane and the Germanic festival of Walpurgis Night. It falls half a year from November 1st, another significant dates in paganism. May Day has also gone through several changes, but still holds long-honored traditions. One of those traditions that lives on today is the leaving of May Baskets. Baskets filled with flowers and/or treats are left on a doorstep, and then, as Reagan put it, “you ding, dong, ditch and run away”. In early times, the person receiving the basket tried to catch the giver, and if caught, a kiss was exchanged.
More than anything, the practice of May Day and winding the Maypole is a celebration of happiness, renewal, and children. I love that their is such an “innocent” and loving tradition that is still promoted and taught to our kids. It has become a rite of passage for the kids at Cove. The first graders help escort the May Day Court, which is the Senior Class. All the school’s musical groups perform. Finally, the fifth grade is the last item on the agenda, and all the hard work and dedication they have shown pays off as they make their entrance and perform first the single strand winding of the Maypole, and then the double strand.
May Day 2017
This year, May Day was extra special for me because the girls in Harley’s class asked me to make their dresses. They each chose a pattern they liked, and then they chose the fabric to have it made out of. They chose a lovely charcoal colored double-brushed poly (think the “buttery soft” leggings from that one company).
The girls all looked lovely, and I am absolutely thrilled with how their dresses turned out. They were all able to personalize their looks, but still look like a put-together group.
More pictures from the celebration:
These dresses are the first 10 finishes on my 2017 Finish-A-Long Quarter 2 Project List.