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Dancing Around the Maypole
May 19, 2019 @ 10:30 am - 2:30 pm
You are invited! On Sunday, May 19, Rock Ford volunteers will “plant a maypole” to honor our friend and neighbor, Dr. Edward Hand. Join the fun! A bagpiper will lead our procession to where we raise the maypole and Rock Ford’s dancers will lead our visitors in traditional maypole dances. Bring a picnic lunch and spend the day!
The maypole procession and dancing will commence at 10:30, 12:00 and 1:30.
Practiced for generations in countries such as Germany and England, the maypole dance is a spring ritual long known to Western Europeans. Dancing was done around a pole or slender tree garnished with flowers and ribbons. The maypole was introduced to Edward Hand’s native Ireland by English and Scottish settlers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In the early 1800’s, an Irish woman gave an account of maypole celebrations which were held “when a number of persons are desirous, for any particular reason, to honour some of their superiors; as for instance, the tenants of an estate for any act of favour shown them by the landlord, or the like…by planting a maypole before his door.” The dances performed were “really a very pretty sight.”
As a civic leader, Ireland native Dr. Edward Hand was known to be compassionate and sensitive to the needs of Lancaster’s poor, and he treated many patients without charge. He was among the community leaders calling for “an act to provide for the erection of houses for the employment and support of the Poor in Counties of Chester and Lancaster.” The act required the election of six reputable citizens to serve as directors, and Hand was among those elected. The resulting Lancaster Almshouse and Hospital was built of stone and still stands.
Image: A painting circa 1750 in Elmbridge Museum, Weybridge, May Pole Dancing