The morris dancing we learned as children requires a set of four couples, eight dancers who skip like hell in various figures, knock sticks together, or flick their white hankies heavenward. The origins of the tradition are lost, but it probably has something to do with the pan-European agrarian fertility rites, and celebrations at sowing and harvest time. By the Industrial Revolution it was a bonding deal for the men in the English Midlands. They'd get up early on May Day, dancing at establishment after establishment, begging for beer with their performances along the way, getting drunk and then drunker as the day wore on. A lot of the older women at camp did morris dancing for a workout, morris dancing, the pagan precursor to the aerobic worship of the body, minus the spandex and the hand weights.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
While on vacation I read Disobedience by Jane Hamilton, and found this fun little bit about Morris Dancing, a May Day tradition: