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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:25 pm

• Maypole •

Pronunciation: may-pol • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A tall pole that stands in the center of town or that is erected annually, around which people dance on May 1st. Traditionally, the top of the pole contains flowers and draped from its pinnacle are many ribbons or flower chains. The dance involves a circle of alternating boys and girls who dance in opposite directions while holding the ribbons, braiding the ribbon down the pole. In some Germanic countries the ribbons are omitted or are painted on the pole, which is also decorated with flowers, flags, and other local symbols.

Notes: The Maypole and the Maypole dance go far back into Germanic pagan history. Both were part of the celebration of the Celtic god Beltane at the beginning of Celtic summer which lasted until Samhain, November 1. The dance, the pole, and the virgin selected as May Queen to walk in front of the May Day procession—all originated in pagan fertility rites that may go back to the ancient Babylonians.

In Play: The erection of the Maypole on May 1st is aptly named since many consider it a male symbol that is, in the course of the dance, covered with feminine flowers and ribbons. May Day more recently, of course, has been preempted by the socialist parties around the world as International Labor Day, and is celebrated as such in most countries.

Word History: The first of today's two Good Words is May, the name of the month. It comes from the name of the Roman goddess of spring, Maia. Simple enough: May Day celebrates the return of spring. The goddess's name is based on a root responsible for English majesty, from Latin maiestas "greatness, authority", as well as major and mayor. The root of Maia's name is probably related to English may and might. It certainly is shared by the Sanskrit word maha(t) "great" found in maharaja "great king", mahatma "great spirit" (Gandhi), and maharishi "great seer".
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Philip Hudson
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Postby Philip Hudson » Tue May 01, 2012 12:02 am

I remember past May Days and Maypoles well. It's too bad we let the Communists steal our spring celebration. I remember it as a lot of fun. We had no notion it was a phallic symbol we were dancing around. Perhaps now that the Cold War is over, we can resume the dance.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.

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Postby LukeJavan8 » Tue May 01, 2012 11:17 am

I remember as a child we also made May Baskets
which we gave to others. I remember
opening the front door of our house, and seeing
one there: made out of cardboard with a few
stray violets flowers in it.

I know the Roman Church instituted a feast back
in the l950's to counter the Communists. They called
it the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, blessing
the concept of work and labor. I presume they
still celebrate it.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----

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