Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The May Pole

May Day is traditionally a day of great merry-making - the most well-known celebration being dancing around the maypole. The ribbon-plaiting dance we know today only began in the 19th century. Before that people used to dance in a ring around a large pole.

Another custom was for young men and women to go out on May Day Eve to collect may (hawthorn) blossom, flowers and blackthorn blossom. A young girl was elected Queen of the May and she presided over the May Day celebrations, which included mumming, morris and molly dances. Gingerbread was traditionally eaten on this day.

In Padstow in Cornwall two hobby horses dance through the streets. The Padstow May Carol is sung to welcome the summer.

The fair maid who, the first of May
Goes to the fields at break of day,
And washes in dew from the hawthorn tree,
Will ever after handsome be.

Soon the apple will bloom!

May Day or Beltane


The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian Europe, as in the Celtic celebration of Beltane, and the Walpurgis Night of the Germanic countries. Many pre-Christian indigenous celebrations were eventually banned or Christianized during the process of Christianization in Europe. As a result, a more secular version of the holiday continued to be observed in the schools and churches of Europe well into the 20th century. In this form, May Day may be best known for its tradition of dancing the Maypole and crowning of the Queen of the May. Today various Neopagan groups celebrate reconstructed (to varying degrees) versions of these customs on 1 May.

The day was a traditional summer holiday in many pre-Christian European pagan cultures. While February 1 was the first day of Spring (season), May 1 was the first day of summer; hence, the summer solstice on June 25 (now June 21) was Midsummer. In the Roman Catholic tradition, May is observed as Mary's month, and in these circles May Day is usually a celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In this connection, in works of art, school skits, and so forth, Mary's head will often be adorned with flowers. Fading in popularity since the late 20th century is the giving of "May baskets," small baskets of sweets and/or flowers, usually left anonymously on neighbors' doorsteps.

Happy May Day Tomorrow!

The Chimney-Sweepers: A Town Eclogue


Last May-day as I skipp'd the garland round,

Cheer'd by the merry hurdy-gurdy's sound,

I look'd, methought, with an unusual grace,

For Moll herself had wash'd and chalk'd my face.


That happy day I never shall forget
The jack-ass that I rode did so curvet,

He brayed for joy - say cou'd the beast do less?

The knots on his rump were tied by Bess.

-1773 (Anon.)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Orthodox Easter

Happy Easter (Pascha ) to all of you Orthodox Christians!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Shaggy donkey

This ass has class....

'Donkey song' causes divorce at Syrian wedding reception

RIYADH, March 7 (RIA Novosti) - A newly-married husband in northwest Syria divorced his wife at their wedding reception after his new bride insulted him with a 'donkey' song, the Al Watan newspaper said on Friday.

The incident happened in the Syrian city of Latakia after the bride had chosen the Arab song, "I love you, my little donkey," for their first wedding dance.

Singing the song, the woman went on to call her new husband a donkey numerous times, admitting however that she would be angry if anyone else did so.

Meanwhile, the husband did not find his wife's joke amusing and asked the DJ to change the record. The DJ refused to do so, saying that the bride had requested the song.

The furious husband then grabbed the DJ's microphone and cried out "talaq" three times.

Under Sunni Islamic Law, a husband may claim a divorce by saying 'talaq' - which means "I divorce you" - three times. The divorce comes into effect as soon as the words are pronounced.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tingalayo, a Caribbean children’s song

This song was in our music books in Elementary School back in the 60s.  I remember my big brother singing this before I even started school.  He learned it in Miss Greg's music class.  The school had books with lots of little songs we learned in those days. Those little books always had songs from around the world.  As I recall it was a series Chautauqua Central had and each grade has a different color with harder songs. I remember I named my tiny, plastic, donkey Tingalayo and played with it in the gravel pile in Murphy's back yard.

Chorus: Tingalayo,
Come little donkey come.
Come little donkey come.

My donkey walk.
My donkey talk.
My donkey eat
with a knife and fork
(repeat entire verse & then sing chorus)

My donkey laugh.
My donkey sing.
My donkey wearin
a diamond ring.
(repeat entire verse & then sing chorus)

My donkey eat
My donkey sleep
My donkey kick with his
Two hind feet.
(repeat entire verse & then sing chorus)

 “Tingalayo” may be the most commonly known Caribbean children’s song in the United States.

This catchy, easy to learn song is also included in an older folk song book called “Echoes of Africa In Folksongs of the Americas”,2nd edition (Beatrice Landeck, David McKay Company, New York, 1969, p 83.) Written as “Tinga layo”, the same verses of the song are also found in Conolly et. al’s book “Mango Spice” (p. 15).

There are many different rhyming verses of this song. However, most of the versions include the verse “My donkey walk, my donkey talk, my donkey eat with a knife and fork”.

Spring is busting out all over!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008



I cannot hold my peace, John Keats;
There never was a spring like this;
It is an echo, that repeats
My last year's song and next year's bliss.
I know, in spite of all men say
Of Beauty, you have felt her most.
Yea, even in your grave her way
Is laid. Poor, troubled, lyric ghost,
Spring never was so fair and dear
As Beauty makes her seem this year.

I cannot hold my peace, John Keats,
I am as helpless in the toil
Of Spring as any lamb that bleats
To feel the solid earth recoil
Beneath his puny legs. Spring beats
her tocsin call to those who love her,
And lo! the dogwood petals cover
Her breast with drifts of snow, and sleek
White gulls fly screaming to her, and hover
About her shoulders, and kiss her cheek,
While white and purple lilacs muster
A strength that bears them to a cluster
Of color and odor; for her sake
All things that slept are now awake.

And you and I, shall we lie still,
John Keats, while Beauty summons us?
Somehow I feel your sensitive will
Is pulsing up some tremulous
Sap road of a maple tree, whose leaves
Grow music as they grow, since your
Wild voice is in them, a harp that grieves
For life that opens death's dark door.
Though dust, your fingers still can push
The Vision Splendid to a birth,
Though now they work as grass in the hush
Of the night on the broad sweet page of the earth.

"John Keats is dead," they say, but I
Who hear your full insistent cry
In bud and blossom, leaf and tree,
Know John Keats still writes poetry.
And while my head is earthward bowed
To read new life sprung from your shroud,
Folks seeing me must think it strange
That merely spring should so derange
My mind. They do not know that you,
John Keats, keep revel with me, too.

From On These I Stand: An Anthology of the Best Poems of Countee Cullen

(May 30, 1903–January 9, 1946)

And Suddenly Spring, a poem.


The winds of March were sleeping.
I hardly felt a thing.
The trees were standing quietly.
It didn't seem like spring.
Then suddenly the winds awoke
They raced across the sky.
They bumped right into April,
Splashing springtime in my eye.

by Margaret Hillert (1920- )

About Me

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I grew up in Chautauqua County, NY. I graduated from Edinboro University of Pennyslvania in 1981 with a BFA in Jewelry and Metalworking. I have been married 31 years. I currently run a small business with my husband. We both enjoy the outdoors and animals a great deal and live on a tiny farm in Western, NY.