May Day is a very special and unique Ilmington Tradition, which the school has celebrated since our foundation in the 1800's.
Ilmington School, May Day Dancing with Sam Bennett & Hobby Horse (1930's)
Beginning of Summer
Although summer does not officially begin until June, May Day marks its beginning. May Day celebrations have been carried out in England for over 2000 years, beginning with the Roman celebration, The Festival of Flora, which marked the beginning of summer.
Traditional English May Day celebrations include Morris dancing, crowning a May Queen and dancing around a Maypole. Ilmington still proudly upholds this unique tradition.
People danced around the tree poles in celebration of the end of winter and the start of the fine weather that would allow planting to begin. On May Day, people used to cut down young trees and stick them in the ground in the village to mark the arrival of summer. Maypoles were once common all over England and were kept from one year to the next. Schools would practice skipping round the pole for weeks before the final show on the village greens.
(May Day 2019)
A traditional dance seen throughout the month of May is Morris Dancing. It is a traditional English form of folk-dancing, performed by groups of men or women. The dancing is very lively and accompanied by an accordion or fiddle player. There are usually six or eight dancers arranged in two lines or in a circle facing each other. The dancers may carry white handkerchiefs that they shake, or short sticks that they bang against each other as they dance. Some dancers have bell-pads tied at their knees, which make a loud and cheerful rhythm as they dance.
Children from Reception to Year 6, learn the traditional May Pole dances, country dances and performance pieces for the celebration. The costumes, speeches and dances are a cherished part of Ilmington School's yearly calendar and the children take great pride in continuing this special festival.