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Plaiting a maypole's ribbons has been a celebration since before the rise of the Roman Empire. Pagans began the maypole dance as a tradition celebrating Beltane, a fertility holiday. Through time, it has become associated with celebrating May Day and spring festivals. The braiding of its streamers or ribbons is often done to the tune of a song, live musician's playing or drum beat. Once your maypole is assembled, teaching your participants how to plait the maypole is easy.
Arrange your participants in boy-girl order. You should have an even number of streamers or ribbons hanging from the pole and the same number of participants, half boys and half girls.
Give each participant a streamer or ribbon. Participants should stand in a circle around the maypole, holding the streamer.
Start the music. Clap your hands to let the dancers find the song's beat.
Instruct your dancers to begin circling the maypole. Their pace should be between a skip and a jog. Traditionally, boys begin the dance by weaving under the ribbon of the first girl they pass. Each dancer will move around the maypole, subsequently weaving under and over the other dancers, with ribbon in hand.
Continue the weaving motion between boys and girls until the ribbon is completely plaited around the pole.
- Keep going! The maypole is supposed to be fun. If you drop your ribbon, bump into another dancer or completely lose your rhythm in the weaving pattern, just keep going. It is all in good fun.
- Matt Cardy/Getty Images News/Getty Images