THE MAYPOLE | Photographs set around a Maypole located in the North Yorkshire village of Slingsby.
Maypoles were traced to prehistoric times when the Tree Spirit was worshipped (Sir James George Frazer in his book ‘The Golden Bough‘). People danced around the poles but did not plait them. Today, the tradition is still observed in some parts of Europe and among European communities in North America.
The Maypole tradition hasn’t always met with approval. The Long Parliament’s ordinance of 1644 described maypoles as “a Heathenish vanity, generally abused to superstition and wickedness.” When Charles II took the throne in 1660 Maypole dancing came back after the crackdown during the Cromwell era.
Slingsby’s maypole history goes back a great many years. The current Maypole was erected in 1993 (the video for the 1985 raising can be found on the Slingsby village website) and is used each year for May Day celebrations attracting big crowds.