How to buy a maypole

Written by rhomylly forbes
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Dancing around a Maypole with a ribbon in your hand on May 1 is fun, good exercise and, in England and some towns in America, a long-standing tradition. The actual dancing is the easy part; acquiring the Maypole is a little harder.

It is highly unlikely that you will ever find a complete Maypole, including base and ribbons, for sale in your town or even online. However, it is not only possible, but quite easy to buy everything you need to make your own Maypole, one that will last for dozens of May Days to come.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Wooden "closet bar" or thick dowel
  • Grapevine wreath
  • Drill
  • String
  • Ribbons
  • Maypole stand (see below)

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  1. 1

    Start with the pole. A thick dowel, 1 1/2 inches in diameter (often marketed as a closet bar), makes a fine Maypole. So does a 2-inch length of PVC pipe. If you are planning to actually dance around your Maypole, keep the height at about 8 feet.

  2. 2

    Add the crown. You attach the ribbons to the crown, so it's important to have one. A grapevine wreath from the craft store (6 inches in diameter) makes a great Maypole crown. So does a wicker wreath.

    Drill two holes all the way through your Maypole about 1 inch down from the top. Even though you can't see the holes, they should make an X. Tie string to the inside of your crown every 90 degrees. Thread the string through the holes in your Maypole and tie with a bow (for easy removal, if desired).

  3. 3

    Tie on the ribbons. For optimum dancing, the ribbons should be twice the height of the Maypole; an 8-foot pole requires a 16-foot length of ribbon. Also, make sure the ribbon is fabric ribbon--grosgrain or satin. Paper gift-wrapping ribbon is too weak to hold up to the amount of pull required to dance around a Maypole and weave the ribbons, and it will tear.

    Thread one end of the ribbon into a branch of the crown and tie tightly.

  4. 4

    Make the base. The base is the hardest part of Maypole construction. The best solution is often the simplest: Have a strong man hold the Maypole upright.

    A 5-gallon bucket filled with cement, and with a large enough length of PVC to slide the pole into, works well. Instead of a bucket, a used car wheel (complete with tire) works well, too, and has the advantage of providing a wider base, which lessens the chances that the Maypole will tip over.

    A patio umbrella stand also makes a good Maypole base.

Tips and warnings

  • Don't forget to decorate your Maypole crown with flowers (real or silk) and bows before attaching it to the pole.
  • Christmas tree stands do not make good Maypole stands. They are too small to hold the pole when the dancers start to pull on it as they weave the ribbons.

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