Life in gardens: May Day

I’m a little worried that fire is going to become involved here.

The photo, “May pole dance at Miami University May Day celebration 1914 ,” is by Frank Snyder, via Frank Snyder Photograph Collection, Miami University Libraries (Oxford, Ohio) Commons on flickr.

The Maypole Dance was a common rite of spring at colleges from the late nineteenth century through the 1950s. Historian David Glassberg argues that the celebration was created (or resurrected) by turn-of-the-century progressives who bemoaned America’s lack of wholesome traditions. They believed that Puritanism had severed this country’s ties to the culture of Elizabethan England—a belief supported by a reading of Hawthorne’s short story, “The May-Pole of Merrymount.”

— Tynes Cowan, from BSC Folklore (Birmingham-Southern College)

Here in the Swabian part of Germany, many towns and villages will be celebrating the first of May like this.

Life in gardens: spring dance

Rites of Spring, 1927, Wash.DC, Library of CongressDancers and cherry blossoms, [Tidal Basin,] Washington, D.C.,” between 1923 and 1929, by Harris & Ewing, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., began on March 20 and continues until April 12. This year, the National Park Service is predicting that peak bloom will occur between April 11 and 14.

The first Tidal Basin Yoshino cherry trees — a gift from the city of Tokyo — were planted in 1912. The first organized celebration of them was held in 1927, when D.C. schoolchildren reenacted the planting.  The first Cherry Blossom Festival, which became the annual event, took place in 1935.