Traces of the Past: Thursday’s Special


© irene waters 2016

The Maypole dates back to the Iron Age (6th – 8th Century) BC. Although there are a number of schools of thought as to the meaning of the Maypole the most common is that it is an ancient fertility rite. It usually occurs on 1st May (May day) although in some parts of Europe including Sweden it occurs Midsummer. The pole itself is thought to be a  phallic symbol although it could just be a way of rejoicing summer has returned. The cross on the Swedish maypole is thought to be an attempt to recognise Christianity in this pagan ritual. This rite of times past is still performed in some countries today and certainly in many countries May Day is celebrated. Possibly due to it being in our autumn I don’t know of anywhere in Australia that performs the maypole ritual.

In response to Paula’s Thursday’s Special

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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17 Responses to Traces of the Past: Thursday’s Special

  1. Paula says:

    Dear Irene, thank you so much. I have now read more about this fascinating ritual, and of all the possible explanations offered by folklorists I like best the one about Germanic reverence for sacred trees. I am always nicely surprised with your entries for this challenge. As the one living in “new” world you always come up with the most ancient traces :). Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Thursday’s Special: Traces of the Past Y2-02 | Lost in Translation

  3. macmsue says:

    I remember doing the Maypole Dance in Primary School. That was in Adelaide, maybe a teacher thought it was a bright idea. At a reunion one of the other past pupils said she was banned from participating because she always got it wrong and messed up the whole thing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • You were lucky that you had a teacher that wanted to do the Maypole dance. The only ritual I can remember from primary school days (apart from Empire Day) was St Andrew’s Day where the haggis was piped in and I refused to eat it. This was followed by Scottish Dancing. The Maypole would have been a lot more fun.


  4. tgeriatrix says:

    In most of the German Regions the “Maibaum” gets erected on May 1st.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love May Day! 🌼🌸🌺 The maypole and everything associated with this day.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I would guess that it was a fertility rite. Hence having young maidens do the dance! Or is that too obvious? You bring us such interesting ideas, Irene!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great photo, Irene. Looks also like a ship’s mast, to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Not too far away now. There are maypole dancers here but are few and far between.

    Liked by 2 people

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