Friday, 1 May 2015

Is that a Maypole or are you just pleased to see me?

Is it my imagination or does May Day come round
faster every year.  Either that or they've slipped an extra
one into the calendar without telling anyone.
On the 1st of May 1561 a lily of the valley was given as
a lucky charm to King Charles IX of France.
From then he continued the habit of offering lilies of the valley
to all the ladies of the court as a sign of good luck
and happiness thus starting what today must be regarded as
perhaps one of the most beautiful yet syrupy customs of France.
I think she's doing buy one get one free.
Well she said bogoff when I spoke to her.
According to tradition you must offer "au moins un brin de muguet"
(at least one sprig of lily of the valley) on May Day. 
I'm not sure what the punishment was for non-adherence
- probably the guillotine.

Meanwhile back in Merrie England we have other ideas.
A giant, phallic, red and white striped Maypole
all decked out with coloured ribbons.
All very pagan and all great fun.
No wonder the Puritans banned it in 1644 only to be
reinstated a few years later by good King Charles II in 1660.
God save the King!

And why do I know it's such fun?  Because that's me
with the flowers having just been crowned Queen of the May
with the King at my side and slightly to the right, one row back,
stands Little John with whom I have recently got back
in touch after all these years!

Now pass me my garland and garters,
fire up the Morris dancers and lead me to it
- I feel a flash back coming on!

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