Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How to Make a Swedish Maypole

We were visiting friends in a little village in Sweden this year on Midsummer holiday, which is the summer solstice, and got to dance around the maypole. Here's how to make one. Start with a tall cross form which you have lashed together with strong string or rope. I think this maypole was about fifteen feet tall.

Now begin to lash a variety of green tree boughs onto the maypole, using the string. Cover the maypole on both sides, all the way to within about 3 or 4 feet from the bottom. The bottom will be stuck into a hole dug with a post-hole digger.

The man wrapping the string is holding the whole ball of string in his hand.

Pick some flowers to decorate the maypole.

This woman made bouquets with the flowers, wrapping them with the string.

The bouquets were bound onto the maypole.

Then she made two flower wreaths to decorate the arms of the maypole, again using string. You can use this same technique to make a lavish flower crown.

Here is a finished flower wreath with a length of string for attaching it to the maypole.

After tying on the flower wreaths, the villagers placed the maypole into the hole and raised it.

They shoved wedge-shaped pieces of lumber into the hole to keep the maypole erect.

In some villages, a permanent maypole is kept up all year, and taken down to decorate it for Midsummer holiday.

An accordion-player began to play traditional maypole dancing songs....

And soon people of all ages were dancing around the pole and singing.

Next May, I will show you how to make the kind of maypole we danced around during May Day celebrations at my school here in the United States.

Varma Midsommar Hälsningar!


suzanne said...

Hi Beth

I cannot wait for Summer. It feels so strange to be sitting in the freezing cold and looking at your MidSummer post. I just love the May pole. We have to call ours the September pole( just doesn't sound the same does it..)Oh well, I will blog some of our pictures when we get there.

Enjoy Summer
Warm regards

Beth said...

Hi, Suzanne! Hang in there, summer will be here soon! Tell me about your maypole. Is it like a Swedish one, or is it the kind which has long ribbons which you weave while dancing?

gardenmama said...

Aside from this being a Swedish tradition, I know that you also make Waldorf dolls... how did you come across Waldorf? What a gorgeous tradition and maypole!

Beth said...

Gardenmama, I discovered waldorf from a Belgian friend whose children attended a waldorf school there. I was very intrigued. I also love Magic Cabin and Hearthsong and learned more about it by looking at their products and reading two books I got from them, The Children's Year, and Festivals, Family and Food. We aren't involved in any waldorf schools but it continues to attract me and much of the waldorf philosophy about toys and play speaks to me in a special way. Are you a waldorfer?

DaveW said...

Beth, I recently discovered your site, and I'm really inspired by all your wonderful projects for children. I teach Kindergarten, and for the last couple of years I've borrowed a May Day pole for our May Day celebration. This year we need to make our own May Day pole. I'm hoping that since it is now spring that you will post your directions on constructing a Maypole with ribbons. (We plan to place it into a hole in the ground of our school garden.) If you prefer to send me an email you may at: dwillheim@saratogausd.org
Thanks so much,

Bonnie said...

What an awsome find.....such wonderful idea's

Anonymous said...

I spent half the day making a stand for our may pole then check the internet on how to make one. Could have saved half a day with this site. Ugggggh

Beth said...