How to Dance Around the Maypole

Dancing around the Maypole is a folk dance that originated in Europe. One tradition has individuals dancing around a tall pole that has been decorated with flowers, ribbons and flags. In the another ritual, individuals dance around a pole with ribbons, wrapping the ribbons around the pole and then reversing direction. Often the event takes place on May Day.

Travel to European countries like Sweden, England and Germany to experience their traditional May Day festivities, including dancing around the Maypole. In Sweden, the Maypole is used during midsummer celebrations.

Locate a pole that you can use for your Maypole. Traditionally, the Maypole was a fir tree that had its lower branches stripped. However, you can use any pole with streamers attached to it.

Attach ribbons to the maypole. You should have an equal number of ribbons or streamers in at least 2 colors. The traditional colors are red and white, but you can use whatever colors you like. The ribbons should be twice as long as the Maypole and you'll need a dancer for each ribbon.

Find some music or chants to dance to. You might choose to use traditional folk music from one of the original countries. You can also view videos of Maypole dances to get ideas for music that will work well.

Gather the dancers for the event. The number you have will be dependent on the area you have to dance in and the number of ribbons. Some planners recommend having 8 dancers per Maypole.

Dance around the Maypole. Half of the dancers should go in one direction around the Maypole, while the other half dance in the opposite direction. Each dancer should alternate between going under or over the dancers that they are meeting. This will weave the ribbons around the Maypole.

Things You'll Need

  • Maypole
  • Ribbons
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