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Dancing round the maypole | Bringing in the May | Birmingham City Council

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Dancing round the maypole

The focal point of many community's celebrations is the maypole, a tradition which has been observed in Britain for at least 700 years. Banned by the Puritans in 1644, the maypole was one of the first customs to be reinstated by Charles II in 1660. The traditional image of coloured ribbons attached to the maypole, weaving a plait down the pole as children danced, was an addition to the custom made by the Victorians. Before this time, dancing in formation took place around a ribbonless pole, which was decorated with flower garlands and flags.

The origins of the Maypole area of Birmingham are disputed, but it is believed that the name refers to a tall signpost which stood at a crossway, rather than an actual maypole.

Morris dancers are a common site on highdays and holidays and particularly so on May Day, when they perform with the beast character of Hobby Horse. The traditional, ceremonial dances of the Morris at Maytime celebrate and welcome summer, whilst scaring away evil spirits.