Year 2 History and Geography

May Day Celebrations

maypole dance

May Day is the first day of May and, each year, people all over the UK and also in different parts of the world celebrate May Day. What are they celebrating? They are celebrating the nicer weather and the coming of summer. There is usually a bank holiday to celebrate May Day and, no matter what day of the week May Day happens to be each year, many of the May Day celebrations happen at the weekend so people have more time to enjoy and participate in them.

Traditionally in Britain, many villages have held a Maypole Dance, many enjoy Morris dancing and many used to crown a May Queen.

In the past, people used to cut down a young tree, fasten colourful ribbons to the top of the tree, and dance around the tree while plaiting the ribbons. Now we mainly use long wooden or metal poles for this yearly dance. You can see some adults in the photo dancing around a Maypole. Many children also practise and perform Maypole Dances to celebrate May Day. For more on the Maypole Dance, see the Music Can Make You Move activity.

You have to have lots of energy to be a Morris dancer! Morris dancing is a traditional English folkdance that has been danced for hundreds of years. It is traditionally danced at festivals, including May Day. Morris dancers are known for their colourful costumes - to see a photo of some Morris dancers and learn more, see the Music Can Make You Move activity.

May Day used to be celebrated more widely that it is today. People used to wake up very early (before sunrise!) to gather flowers and green plants and use them to decorate their houses. They believed that this would bring them good luck. If you ask permission, maybe you can bring some flowers or green plants in from the garden to decorate your home. Many girls also used to wear garlands of flowers in their hair on May Day. One special girl was chosen each year to be crowned the May Queen.

This activity is inspired by What Your Year 2 Child Needs to Know, which can be purchased here.

This activity has a connection: click below to see the related activity.

music owl