Lower School students participated in a traditional May Day Celebration on May 1, complete with a May Pole and all the May Day elements: Hobby Horse and Teaser; Green Man; Chimney Sweeps; and Morris Dancing.
The event opened with the Unite and Unite processional of the entire Lower School led by the Hobby Horse and Teaser. These two characters danced exuberantly around the May Pole as the students sang. During the O Where is Saint George? Verse, the Horse sank to the ground, miming the rite of dying as a hush descended on the singers. Then an outburst of song from the students caused the Hobby Horse to leap up, symbolizing the renewal of life after the long winter.
The second grade then performed Cumberland Reel, an English folk dance, followed by a joint performance of Lavender’s Blue by the EC3 and fourth grade students and the traditional children's song, I'm a Little Flower, performed by the Early Childhood class.
A team of fourth grade boys danced the Morris Dance, a choreographed routine incorporating bells and sticks. This traditional English dance was done to ensure the healthy growth of crops: the bells drive away the evil spirits, and the sticks are used to enact the battle of good and evil, and to bring luck and good cosmic energy to the growing of the crops. The rest of the fourth grade then danced around the May Pole, weaving the ribbons together encasing the Pole in a beautiful pattern.
Third graders took the stage with Here Comes Sally, a party game from North Carolina and then the Muffin Man danced with third and fourth graders, offering his delicious muffins to members of the audience.
PreK and kindergarten students sang and danced to Bow Down, O Belinda, a party game from Virginia, which included an appearance by the Green Man. The Green Man is an ancient tree spirit and guardian of the forest. He traditionally appears at May Day celebrations to honor the life-giving properties of vegetation that brings new life in the spring.
Next came an appearance from the Chimney Sweeps, three second grade boys, who pranced around to the song Chim Chim Cher-ee from Mary Poppins, sung by three fourth grade girls. Chimney sweeps are thought to bring good luck when you tip your hat to them, blow them a kiss, or give them a wave, a nod or a bow.
The celebration came to a close with the first grade performing Ninepins, an English folk dance, followed by the May Day Carol sung by the entire Lower School. Between each performance, students took turns placing flowers or branches of spring at the base of the May Pole.
May Day is a Lower School Signature Curriculum Event.