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Tuesday, 3 May 2011

A May Day celebration in Devon

[I had great plans for this May Day (or Beltaine, to use the Irish/Scotish/Manx term), but found that having a baby around does not make for complicated festivities...

I did manage to get some May blossom (hawthorn flowers) to decorate my daughters pram as we walked around town, in remembrance of my Granny (from Northamptonshire, not the Westcountry) who used as a girl to carry hawthorn blossoms from house to house on May Day, singing a rhyme my dad can never quite remember... It was a begging rhyme.

The Fire is lit...

Later in the day we went to a basket making friends May Day fire - a huge great conflagration of a years supply of pruning and a barn roof.

It felt like a fitting way to welcome in the flowers and grouth of May.

Old May day songs where sung, drums sounded out and a sunwise circling of the flames was walked with excitement and loud exclamations at the huge serpentine flames.

The flames of May

A little later some knife and axe throwing (at tree section targets) was practiced.


Later, as the flames dropped down to the embers first the bravest of the men, then the bravest of the women and finally the bravest of the children tried to jump the glowing fire, sometimes kicking up sparks in their wake as they landed a little short of the far side.

video


Hedgerow berry fueled home brew and commercial wines and beers where cracked open and crisps born by insistent children where eaten. I brought out my fiddle and played the Baring-Gould Chagford tune for perhaps its first public Chagford performance in over 100 years...  Soon artist Rima Staines joined in  on the Accordion (or rather carried on - I stopped - too much alcohol on not enough sleep) and then her partner, the story teller Tom Hiron accompanied her on clarinet.

Beautiful patterns my camera was not fast enough to capture

We had to leave then, the little one needing her bed, but the festivities carried on into the night, I imagine in a riot of multi-generational humans and a few teenage dogs. 

Next year, maybe then I can have puppets, masks and a May-pole....]

3 comments:

  1. That 'month of Sundays' people mention; maybe next year we should spend it making puppets and masks and huge erections.
    (Sorry - that was my May Day joke).

    ReplyDelete
  2. A wonderful recount of living folk traditions. Were there any Hobby Horses?

    Great blog!

    Scott M

    www.midnightfolklore.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks, Scott!

    Next year I hope there will be - a big horsey backpack puppet maybe, with skulls!

    ReplyDelete