May Day


Do you have any school traditions?

“In elementary school we did May day. “

What did you do for it?

“For the girls, we had strings that were all attached to a pole and we would go, and a group of girls would be going in one way, and another group would be going the other way weaving in and out, we did it for basically the whole song, and when we finished, and there would be a pattern braided on the pole. “

Do you remember what the other people did?

“The boys would have sticks, like large popsicle sticks.  And there were groups of 5 people would be in circles and they would try to make a star out of the wood, and after they make it they would show everyone.

The kindergarten people did the chicken dance.”



It’s an annual tradition of Valentine Elementary school is to perform a mayday presentation to the parents of the students.  Every year during P.E. class in early spring, teachers would assign each grade a different exercise.  Kindergarteners would get a dance where they dress up as chickens.  Second would get a dance with a multicolored parachute.  The two differences were the dances done by the fifth-grade students.  The boys would be doing a dance with wooden “swords”, called the swords dance, and the girls would be doing a dance known as the maypole dance.  When asked, the subject had already forgotten about how she felt about the performance.  While the original May day holiday that is traditionally celebrated on May 1st but the school varies on the time when the performances take place.   The presences of the maypole dance most closely resemble the European celebration of May day rather than the traditions that formed in the United States.  Many European countries would also celebrate by having a pole attached with colorful ribbons, braided by participants dancing around the pole.



I recall participating in the May day performance.  It was always a time of excitement to become a 5th grader to be able to participate in the sword dance.  Hearing about being retold from my sister’s perspective was an interesting experience.