Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy May Day

May Day and Maypole celebrations are common in Germanic countries. Since many Catawbans trace their roots back to Germany, the tradition of "winding the maypole" lived on. Many residents recall the weaving of ribbons around a wooden or metal pole to music, creating a lovely pattern to welcome spring. The above picture was taken in Hickory, and I believe that George Lyerly is in it, but correct me if I'm wrong.

A woman online actually collects postcards of different maypole dances and May Day festivities and can be found here. She got the postcards from California and they are so interesting! She also has links to learn more about this intriguing ritual.

Her own recollection of the celebration: "I remember that the pole was in the school yard and the colorful crepe paper ribbons were attached to the top. The boys would have a ribbon and walk to the right, the girls would take a ribbon and walk left. The boys and girls would walk in opposite directions holding the ribbons taut. As the children met, we would alternate by going under the ribbon of the first boy then go over the ribbon of the next boy (the boys would reverse the pattern) and so on. This up and down or in and out movement would create a weaving pattern (tabby weave) down the pole as the ribbons got shorter and shorter. I'm not positive, but I think there was an odd number of either boys or an odd number of girls in order to create the weave. It was almost like a dance because we moved to music. The winding of the Maypole was a traditional activity every year that the whole school participated in to welcome spring. Also, when I was young we made May baskets out of squares cut from left over wall paper--rolling them into cone shapes, adding a handle, then filling the baskets with handpicked flowers. That evening we would hang them on our friends' doors (usually older seniors), ring the door bell or knock, then run and hide and watch them find the flowers from our hiding places. I have very fond childhood memories of May Day."

Happy May Day, Catawba County!


  1. In what year was the May Day Pole picture taken? Do you know what the location was in Hickory?

  2. My mother was the May Day queen in either the 1940's or 1950's. Most n unfortunately she's no longer around to ask!
    My mother was Carol Samantha Drum at that time. She later became Carol Evans Triplett.

  3. My mother, Carol Samantha Drum, was a May Day Queen in either the 1940's or the 1950's. Most unfortunately, she's no longer around to ask. She later became Carol Evans Triplett.