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May Traditions

06 Apr 2022

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This May why not reconnect with some traditional customs to celebrate? There are many things that happen, from ‘well dressings’ to maypoles and morris dancing, here we look at where you can see some!










Well Dressing
An ancient custom known as Well Dressing is peculiar to England, and Derbyshire and Staffordshire in particular. The practice of well dressing dates back to the Celts but early Christians were not happy with the custom of dressing wells – they considered it water worship and promptly put an end to it!

Well dressing involves the decoration of springs and wells with pictures made from living plants and flowers, and usually happens in the summer and early autumn. Some places to visit well dressings are:

Chester Green Derby: At Marcus Street Well there are usually 3 dressings at the well at the end of Marcus Street. Chester Green is located on Mansfield Road, Derby, about 1.5km north of the City Centre. Use DE1 3SA for nearest map location.

Etwall: There are up to nine Well Dressings to be seen in the village. The village sometimes hosts Have-a-Go Well Dressing, providing a demonstration and an opportunity for everyone to try their hand, is made in a marquee on The Green during the course of the weekend. Etwall is located just off the A516. Use DE65 6LP for map location.

Tissington: There are up to seven Well Dressings. Tissington was the first village to re-introduce well dressing in 1349, after the village managed to escape a terrible outbreak of the Black Death that swept through England at this time. Tissington is located to the east of the A515 Ashbourne to Buxton road, north of Fenny Bentley. Use DE6 1RA for map location.

Maypole
A maypole is a tall wooden pole erected as a part of various European folk festivals, around which a maypole dance often takes place.

The festivals usually are held on 1st May. In some places the Maypole is a permanent feature that is only utilised during the festival, although in other cases it is erected specifically for the purpose before being taken down again.

The good folk of Wellow in Nottinghamshire are rightly proud of their permanent Maypole and public May Day celebration take place on the Village Green every year on the Bank Holiday nearest to May Day. Use NG22 7EW for map location.

Morris Dancing
This is a traditional English form of folk dancing from the 15th Century, often performed on May Day by groups of men or women who wear different outfits depending on which part of the country they are from. Their clothes are white with coloured belts across the chest. There is Morris dancing at Mercia Marina at 8:30 on the 12th May

If you’re interested in having a go at Morris Dancing, why not get in touch with the Ryknild Rabble. You can visit their website at: ryknildrabble.co.uk

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