According to National Public Radio’s Linton Weeks “Through the 19th and 20th centuries, May Basket Day celebrations took place all across the nation: A reporter in the Sterling, Ill., Gazette in 1871 explained the seasonal ritual this way: “A May-basket is — well, I hardly know how to describe it; but ’tis something to be hung on a door. Made of paper generally, it contains almost anything, by way of small presents you have in mind to put in it, together with your respects, best wishes — love, perhaps. It is hung after dark at the door of anybody the hanger fancies. — Which done, the said hanger knocks and scampers.” Because the Puritans of New England considered the celebrations of May Day to be licentious and pagan, they forbade its observance, and the holiday never became an important part of American culture. Museum Educator Lola Chen will introduce kids to May Day customs, from the hanging of May Baskets on doors, dancing around Maypoles, to weaving floral garlands. The workshop project is to create a May Day basket. Children will help prepare a healthy snack.
Suggested for ages 6 – 12. Wilton Historical Society Members $10 per child, maximum $25 per family; Non-members $15 per child, maximum $35 per family. Please register: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 203-762-7257.
Did You Know?
The maypole dance is a ceremonial folk dance performed around a tall pole garlanded with greenery or flowers and often hung with ribbons that are woven into complex patterns by the dancers. Such dances are survivals of ancient dances around a living tree as part of spring rites to ensure fertility. Typically performed on May Day (May 1), they also occur at midsummer in Scandinavia and at other festivals elsewhere. They are widely distributed through Europe—e.g., “Sellenger’s Round” in England, the baile del cordón of Spain—and also are found in India. Similar ribbon dances were performed in pre-Columbian Latin America and were later integrated into ritual dances of Hispanic origin. Maypoles may also appear in other ritual dances, as in the Basque ezpata dantza, or sword dance.” Encyclopedia Brittanica