When you think of Mayday you probably think of a maypoles. Its origins are pagan. In what is now Marsberg in Germany there was a giant and permanent ‘Maypole’ called the Irmansul, it was finally destroyed by Charlemange in 772. The pole was made from any straight tree trunk, and then a flag or a bush was added to the top whilst the rest was painted in spiralling stripes something like a barber’s pole. Once it was raised there would be much singing and dancing; the dancing often involving the skilful interweaving and undoing of the coloured ribbons hanging from the top of the pole.
Puritan Misery, Philip Stubbs
Professional Puritan misery and Mayday hater Phillip Stubbs had a lot to say about the Maypole (and the people who enjoyed it), in one of his caustic pamphlets; Anatomie (sic) of Abuses (1583) he called it “the stinking Ydol” but then he would. Over the years the Maypole has fallen in and out of fashion; in 1644 the government banned the Maypole (and Christmas). After the restoration of Charles II the Maypole returned with a vengeance only to become less common in the 19th century. In rural parts of Britain interest in dancing round the Maypole is growing in popularity once more.