Maypole Dancing is a folk dance, mainly observed in western Europe, especially in the countries of Sweden, Germany, Portugal, England, and Basque Country. Although this kind of dancing is practiced in two different traditions, the main theme of dancing remains the same. The participants perform around an erected pole forming a circle. This pole is usually decorated with flags, flowers, garlands, etc. before the event starts.
In a slightly different form of Maypole Dancing, all performers revolve around the pole holding a ribbon, the other end of which is tied around a smaller pole, placed near the bigger pole. They first dance in a direction, intertwining the ribbon on the pole. Later, they perform similar dance, but in reverse direction to unravel the intertwined ribbon.
The Maypole Dancing event takes place around the May Day, when the ambiance is pleasant, in spring. However, in Germany, this dancing event takes place in mid-summer. It is believed that this kind of dancing was traditionally practiced every spring by the residents of London. And the St. Andrews Undershaft is also named after this practice of maypole dancing. However, this custom was abruptly discontinued, after a students’ riot broke out in 1517. But the maypole stood for another 30 years, until the Puritan crowd demolished it.
Much later, during the eighteenth century, maypole dancing reincarnated as a form of art in the countries of Italy and France. After many years, these groups performed at London stage, which millions observed, and adopted. Thereon, it became a tradition for the residents of southern and central England residents.
This event is now mainly celebrated as the end of winter, and the arrival of summer. People rejoice and cut long trees to form maypole. This pole is then dug onto the ground and people dance around it.
If the polemic anti-catholic pamphlet is to be believed, the maypole was used to worship sex and fertility rites. The pole was a carved erect penis rising from the ground, and the females danced around this structure. Ribbons were tied to guarantee offspring. However, this story has no evidence or record in any scriptures, and is purely a belief.