Thursday, May 31, 2018

19C Historical depiction of an English MAYPOLE

Frederick Goodall (British artist, 1822-1904) Here Goodall depicts the Raising the Maypole from an earlier era.

Centuries of Celebrating Spring

May Day, usually the 1st of May, celebrates the onset of summer, the height of Spring, & the flowering of life. The ancient European festival of spring, Beltane, features a goddess which manifests as the May Queen & Flora. A god also emerges as the May King & Jack in the Green. In ancient European festivals of spring, Beltane, the dance around the Maypole represents their unity with the pole itself being the God & the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Mayday is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, & delight.

Some festival celebrants believed that on May Eve, you could bless your garden in by making love there with your partner. Union with the land was a May 1 focus, often with actual mating outside on other lands to bless fields, herds, home. Revellers welcomed May at dawn with singing & dancing. Later communities celebtated with Morris Dancers & more formal pageants featuring Jack-in-Green& a May Queen to awaken the fertility in the Land.

In ancient springtimes, gathering & exchanging of Flowers & Greens was common on May Eve. Merrymakers decorated homes, barns, & other buildings with green budding branches. Men & women made garlands & wreaths of Flowers & Greens. Early communities prepared a May basket by filling it with flowers & goodwill & then giving it to someone in need of healing & caring. Women in early cultures formed wreaths of freshly picked flowers to wear in the hair to radiate joy & beauty. Early groups often danced the Maypole to feel the balancing of the Divine Female & Male within.

In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora & the flowering of Springtime. Roman Catholic traditions of adoring statues of Mary with garlands of flowers on May 1 have Roman Pagan roots. On May 1, offerings were made to Bona Dea (as Mother Earth), the Lares (household guardian spirits), & Maia (Goddess of Increase) from whom May gets its name. On May 1, early cultures followed a pastoral tradition of turning sheep, cows, other livestock out to pasture. In early Scandinavia, mock battles between Winter & Summer were enacted at this time. Maypoles in Spain sometimes were topped with a male effigy which was later burned. In Germany, Fir trees were cut on May Eve by young unmarried men, branches removed, decorated, put up in village square, & guarded all night until dance occurred on May Day. In England , permanent Maypoles sometimes were erected on village greens. In some villages, there also were smaller Maypoles in the yards of households.

Fire was a common accompaniment to many May celebrations. Celebrants marked the holiday by lighting fires, dancing, feasting & often performing fertility rites. Many built a bonfire & then moved through it or danced clockwise around it. Livestock was driven around a Beltane fire or between 2 fires for purification & fertility blessings. In ancient times Druid priests kindled it at sacred places. In later times, Christian priests kindled their spring fires in fields near the church after performing a Christian church service. Branches & twigs often were carried around these fire 3 times, then hung over hearths to bless homes.  Risk-takers made a wish for good luck before jumping a bonfire or the flame of a candle. Some believe during May the veil between the human & supernatural worlds is at its thinnest, making them potent days for magic. Beltane may refer to the “fires of Bel,” in honor of the Celtic sun god, Belenus. Some pagans believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Morning Madonna

Marianne Stokes (Austrian born English painter, 1855–1927) Madonna and Child 1907

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

18C MAYPOLE

Jan Josef Horemans the Elder (Dutch artist, 1682-1759),  Spring & Dancing Around The Maypole

Centuries of Celebrating Spring

May Day, usually the 1st of May, celebrates the onset of summer, the height of Spring, & the flowering of life. The ancient European festival of spring, Beltane, features a goddess which manifests as the May Queen & Flora. A god also emerges as the May King & Jack in the Green. In ancient European festivals of spring, Beltane, the dance around the Maypole represents their unity with the pole itself being the God & the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Mayday is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, & delight.

Some festival celebrants believed that on May Eve, you could bless your garden in by making love there with your partner. Union with the land was a May 1 focus, often with actual mating outside on other lands to bless fields, herds, home. Revellers welcomed May at dawn with singing & dancing. Later communities celebtated with Morris Dancers & more formal pageants featuring Jack-in-Green& a May Queen to awaken the fertility in the Land.

In ancient springtimes, gathering & exchanging of Flowers & Greens was common on May Eve. Merrymakers decorated homes, barns, & other buildings with green budding branches. Men & women made garlands & wreaths of Flowers & Greens. Early communities prepared a May basket by filling it with flowers & goodwill & then giving it to someone in need of healing & caring. Women in early cultures formed wreaths of freshly picked flowers to wear in the hair to radiate joy & beauty. Early groups often danced the Maypole to feel the balancing of the Divine Female & Male within.

In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora & the flowering of Springtime. Roman Catholic traditions of adoring statues of Mary with garlands of flowers on May 1 have Roman Pagan roots. On May 1, offerings were made to Bona Dea (as Mother Earth), the Lares (household guardian spirits), & Maia (Goddess of Increase) from whom May gets its name. On May 1, early cultures followed a pastoral tradition of turning sheep, cows, other livestock out to pasture. In early Scandinavia, mock battles between Winter & Summer were enacted at this time. Maypoles in Spain sometimes were topped with a male effigy which was later burned. In Germany, Fir tree was cut on May Eve by young unmarried men, branches removed, decorated, put up in village square, & guarded all night until dance occurred on May Day. In England , permanent Maypoles sometimes were erected on village greens. In some villages, there also were smaller Maypoles in the yards of households.

Fire was a common accompaniment to many May celebrations. Celebrants marked the holiday by lighting fires, dancing, feasting & often performing fertility rites. Many built a bonfire & then moved through it or danced clockwise around it. Livestock was driven around a Beltane fire or between 2 fires for purification & fertility blessings. In ancient times Druid priests kindled it at sacred places. In later times, Christian priests kindled their spring fires in fields near the church after performing a Christian church service. Branches & twigs often were carried around these fire 3 times, then hung over hearths to bless homes.  Risk-takers made a wish for good luck before jumping a bonfire or the flame of a candle. Some believe during May the veil between the human & supernatural worlds is at its thinnest, making them potent days for magic. Beltane may refer to the “fires of Bel,” in honor of the Celtic sun god, Belenus. Some pagans believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Morning Madonna


Johann Friedrich Overbeck (German artist, 1789–1869) Mary and Elisabeth with John and Baby Jesus

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

18C Raising the MAYPOLE

Mayday Dominique Joseph Vanderburch (1722-1785) Raising the Maypole while musicians are practicing & one couple is already dancing.
Centuries of Celebrating Spring

May Day, usually the 1st of May, celebrates the onset of summer, the height of Spring, & the flowering of life. The ancient European festival of spring, Beltane, features a goddess which manifests as the May Queen & Flora. A god also emerges as the May King & Jack in the Green. In ancient European festivals of spring, Beltane, the dance around the Maypole represents their unity with the pole itself being the God & the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Mayday is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, & delight.

Some festival celebrants believed that on May Eve, you could bless your garden in by making love there with your partner. Union with the land was a May 1 focus, often with actual mating outside on other lands to bless fields, herds, home. Revellers welcomed May at dawn with singing & dancing. Later communities celebtated with Morris Dancers & more formal pageants featuring Jack-in-Green& a May Queen to awaken the fertility in the Land.

In ancient springtimes, gathering & exchanging of Flowers & Greens was common on May Eve. Merrymakers decorated homes, barns, & other buildings with green budding branches. Men & women made garlands & wreaths of Flowers & Greens. Early communities prepared a May basket by filling it with flowers & goodwill & then giving it to someone in need of healing & caring. Women in early cultures formed wreaths of freshly picked flowers to wear in the hair to radiate joy & beauty. Early groups often danced the Maypole to feel the balancing of the Divine Female & Male within.

In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora & the flowering of Springtime. Roman Catholic traditions of adoring statues of Mary with garlands of flowers on May 1 have Roman Pagan roots. On May 1, offerings were made to Bona Dea (as Mother Earth), the Lares (household guardian spirits), & Maia (Goddess of Increase) from whom May gets its name. On May 1, early cultures followed a pastoral tradition of turning sheep, cows, other livestock out to pasture. In early Scandinavia, mock battles between Winter & Summer were enacted at this time. Maypoles in Spain sometimes were topped with a male effigy which was later burned. In Germany, Fir tree was cut on May Eve by young unmarried men, branches removed, decorated, put up in village square, & guarded all night until dance occurred on May Day. In England , permanent Maypoles sometimes were erected on village greens. In some villages, there also were smaller Maypoles in the yards of households.

Fire was a common accompaniment to many May celebrations. Celebrants marked the holiday by lighting fires, dancing, feasting & often performing fertility rites. Many built a bonfire & then moved through it or danced clockwise around it. Livestock was driven around a Beltane fire or between 2 fires for purification & fertility blessings. In ancient times Druid priests kindled it at sacred places. In later times, Christian priests kindled their spring fires in fields near the church after performing a Christian church service. Branches & twigs often were carried around these fire 3 times, then hung over hearths to bless homes.  Risk-takers made a wish for good luck before jumping a bonfire or the flame of a candle. Some believe during May the veil between the human & supernatural worlds is at its thinnest, making them potent days for magic. Beltane may refer to the “fires of Bel,” in honor of the Celtic sun god, Belenus. Some pagans believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Morning Madonna

Anthony van Dyck and workshop (Flemish artist, 1599-1641) Madonna and Child c 1620

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Monday, May 28, 2018

18C Villagers Making Merry with MAYPOLE in Background

18C Jan Josef Horemans II. (1714-1790) Villagers Making Merry with Maypole in Background

Centuries of Celebrating Spring

May Day, usually the 1st of May, celebrates the onset of summer, the height of Spring, & the flowering of life. The ancient European festival of spring, Beltane, features a goddess which manifests as the May Queen & Flora. A god also emerges as the May King & Jack in the Green. In ancient European festivals of spring, Beltane, the dance around the Maypole represents their unity with the pole itself being the God & the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Mayday is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, & delight.

Some festival celebrants believed that on May Eve, you could bless your garden in by making love there with your partner. Union with the land was a May 1 focus, often with actual mating outside on other lands to bless fields, herds, home. Revellers welcomed May at dawn with singing & dancing. Later communities celebtated with Morris Dancers & more formal pageants featuring Jack-in-Green& a May Queen to awaken the fertility in the Land.

In ancient springtimes, gathering & exchanging of Flowers & Greens was common on May Eve. Merrymakers decorated homes, barns, & other buildings with green budding branches. Men & women made garlands & wreaths of Flowers & Greens. Early communities prepared a May basket by filling it with flowers & goodwill & then giving it to someone in need of healing & caring. Women in early cultures formed wreaths of freshly picked flowers to wear in the hair to radiate joy & beauty. Early groups often danced the Maypole to feel the balancing of the Divine Female & Male within.

In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora & the flowering of Springtime. Roman Catholic traditions of adoring statues of Mary with garlands of flowers on May 1 have Roman Pagan roots. On May 1, offerings were made to Bona Dea (as Mother Earth), the Lares (household guardian spirits), & Maia (Goddess of Increase) from whom May gets its name. On May 1, early cultures followed a pastoral tradition of turning sheep, cows, other livestock out to pasture. In early Scandinavia, mock battles between Winter & Summer were enacted at this time. Maypoles in Spain sometimes were topped with a male effigy which was later burned. In Germany, Fir tree was cut on May Eve by young unmarried men, branches removed, decorated, put up in village square, & guarded all night until dance occurred on May Day. In England , permanent Maypoles sometimes were erected on village greens. In some villages, there also were smaller Maypoles in the yards of households.

Fire was a common accompaniment to many May celebrations. Celebrants marked the holiday by lighting fires, dancing, feasting & often performing fertility rites. Many built a bonfire & then moved through it or danced clockwise around it. Livestock was driven around a Beltane fire or between 2 fires for purification & fertility blessings. In ancient times Druid priests kindled it at sacred places. In later times, Christian priests kindled their spring fires in fields near the church after performing a Christian church service. Branches & twigs often were carried around these fire 3 times, then hung over hearths to bless homes.  Risk-takers made a wish for good luck before jumping a bonfire or the flame of a candle. Some believe during May the veil between the human & supernatural worlds is at its thinnest, making them potent days for magic. Beltane may refer to the “fires of Bel,” in honor of the Celtic sun god, Belenus. Some pagans believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Morning Madonna

Giorgio di Tomaso Schiavone (Dalmatian artist, c 1433-1504) Madonna and Child with musical angels c 1459

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

London 1760s MAY DAY Parade

1761–1770 John Collet (British artist, c.1725–1780) A Satire of a May Day Scene in London

Centuries of Celebrating Spring

May Day, usually the 1st of May, celebrates the onset of summer, the height of Spring, & the flowering of life. The ancient European festival of spring, Beltane, features a goddess which manifests as the May Queen & Flora. A god also emerges as the May King & Jack in the Green. In ancient European festivals of spring, Beltane, the dance around the Maypole represents their unity with the pole itself being the God & the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Mayday is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, & delight.

Some festival celebrants believed that on May Eve, you could bless your garden in by making love there with your partner. Union with the land was a May 1 focus, often with actual mating outside on other lands to bless fields, herds, home. Revellers welcomed May at dawn with singing & dancing. Later communities celebtated with Morris Dancers & more formal pageants featuring Jack-in-Green& a May Queen to awaken the fertility in the Land.

In ancient springtimes, gathering & exchanging of Flowers & Greens was common on May Eve. Merrymakers decorated homes, barns, & other buildings with green budding branches. Men & women made garlands & wreaths of Flowers & Greens. Early communities prepared a May basket by filling it with flowers & goodwill & then giving it to someone in need of healing & caring. Women in early cultures formed wreaths of freshly picked flowers to wear in the hair to radiate joy & beauty. Early groups often danced the Maypole to feel the balancing of the Divine Female & Male within.

In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora & the flowering of Springtime. Roman Catholic traditions of adoring statues of Mary with garlands of flowers on May 1 have Roman Pagan roots. On May 1, offerings were made to Bona Dea (as Mother Earth), the Lares (household guardian spirits), & Maia (Goddess of Increase) from whom May gets its name. On May 1, early cultures followed a pastoral tradition of turning sheep, cows, other livestock out to pasture. In early Scandinavia, mock battles between Winter & Summer were enacted at this time. Maypoles in Spain sometimes were topped with a male effigy which was later burned. In Germany, Fir tree was cut on May Eve by young unmarried men, branches removed, decorated, put up in village square, & guarded all night until dance occurred on May Day. In England , permanent Maypoles sometimes were erected on village greens. In some villages, there also were smaller Maypoles in the yards of households.

Fire was a common accompaniment to many May celebrations. Celebrants marked the holiday by lighting fires, dancing, feasting & often performing fertility rites. Many built a bonfire & then moved through it or danced clockwise around it. Livestock was driven around a Beltane fire or between 2 fires for purification & fertility blessings. In ancient times Druid priests kindled it at sacred places. In later times, Christian priests kindled their spring fires in fields near the church after performing a Christian church service. Branches & twigs often were carried around these fire 3 times, then hung over hearths to bless homes.  Risk-takers made a wish for good luck before jumping a bonfire or the flame of a candle. Some believe during May the veil between the human & supernatural worlds is at its thinnest, making them potent days for magic. Beltane may refer to the “fires of Bel,” in honor of the Celtic sun god, Belenus. Some pagans believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Morning Madonna

Unknown Master, German (active around 1420 in Westphalia). Virgin and Child with Angels

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

18C MAYPOLE at a Country Inn

Maypole at a Country Inn by Johann Peter Neeff (1753-1796)

Centuries of Celebrating Spring

May Day, usually the 1st of May, celebrates the onset of summer, the height of Spring, & the flowering of life. The ancient European festival of spring, Beltane, features a goddess which manifests as the May Queen & Flora. A god also emerges as the May King & Jack in the Green. In ancient European festivals of spring, Beltane, the dance around the Maypole represents their unity with the pole itself being the God & the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Mayday is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, & delight.

Some festival celebrants believed that on May Eve, you could bless your garden in by making love there with your partner. Union with the land was a May 1 focus, often with actual mating outside on other lands to bless fields, herds, home. Revellers welcomed May at dawn with singing & dancing. Later communities celebtated with Morris Dancers & more formal pageants featuring Jack-in-Green& a May Queen to awaken the fertility in the Land.

In ancient springtimes, gathering & exchanging of Flowers & Greens was common on May Eve. Merrymakers decorated homes, barns, & other buildings with green budding branches. Men & women made garlands & wreaths of Flowers & Greens. Early communities prepared a May basket by filling it with flowers & goodwill & then giving it to someone in need of healing & caring. Women in early cultures formed wreaths of freshly picked flowers to wear in the hair to radiate joy & beauty. Early groups often danced the Maypole to feel the balancing of the Divine Female & Male within.

In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora & the flowering of Springtime. Roman Catholic traditions of adoring statues of Mary with garlands of flowers on May 1 have Roman Pagan roots. On May 1, offerings were made to Bona Dea (as Mother Earth), the Lares (household guardian spirits), & Maia (Goddess of Increase) from whom May gets its name. On May 1, early cultures followed a pastoral tradition of turning sheep, cows, other livestock out to pasture. In early Scandinavia, mock battles between Winter & Summer were enacted at this time. Maypoles in Spain sometimes were topped with a male effigy which was later burned. In Germany, Fir tree was cut on May Eve by young unmarried men, branches removed, decorated, put up in village square, & guarded all night until dance occurred on May Day. In England , permanent Maypoles sometimes were erected on village greens. In some villages, there also were smaller Maypoles in the yards of households.

Fire was a common accompaniment to many May celebrations. Celebrants marked the holiday by lighting fires, dancing, feasting & often performing fertility rites. Many built a bonfire & then moved through it or danced clockwise around it. Livestock was driven around a Beltane fire or between 2 fires for purification & fertility blessings. In ancient times Druid priests kindled it at sacred places. In later times, Christian priests kindled their spring fires in fields near the church after performing a Christian church service. Branches & twigs often were carried around these fire 3 times, then hung over hearths to bless homes.  Risk-takers made a wish for good luck before jumping a bonfire or the flame of a candle. Some believe during May the veil between the human & supernatural worlds is at its thinnest, making them potent days for magic. Beltane may refer to the “fires of Bel,” in honor of the Celtic sun god, Belenus. Some pagans believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Morning Madonna

Unknown Master, German (active 1460-1480 in Cologne). Sts Anne, Christopher, Gereon and Peter with the Madonna and Child 1480

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Friday, May 25, 2018

MAYPOLE in the background 1767 England

1767 Printed for Robert Sayer, London. 

Centuries of Celebrating Spring

May Day, usually the 1st of May, celebrates the onset of summer, the height of Spring, & the flowering of life. The ancient European festival of spring, Beltane, features a goddess which manifests as the May Queen & Flora. A god also emerges as the May King & Jack in the Green. In ancient European festivals of spring, Beltane, the dance around the Maypole represents their unity with the pole itself being the God & the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Mayday is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, & delight.

Some festival celebrants believed that on May Eve, you could bless your garden in by making love there with your partner. Union with the land was a May 1 focus, often with actual mating outside on other lands to bless fields, herds, home. Revellers welcomed May at dawn with singing & dancing. Later communities celebtated with Morris Dancers & more formal pageants featuring Jack-in-Green& a May Queen to awaken the fertility in the Land.

In ancient springtimes, gathering & exchanging of Flowers & Greens was common on May Eve. Merrymakers decorated homes, barns, & other buildings with green budding branches. Men & women made garlands & wreaths of Flowers & Greens. Early communities prepared a May basket by filling it with flowers & goodwill & then giving it to someone in need of healing & caring. Women in early cultures formed wreaths of freshly picked flowers to wear in the hair to radiate joy & beauty. Early groups often danced the Maypole to feel the balancing of the Divine Female & Male within.

In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora & the flowering of Springtime. Roman Catholic traditions of adoring statues of Mary with garlands of flowers on May 1 have Roman Pagan roots. On May 1, offerings were made to Bona Dea (as Mother Earth), the Lares (household guardian spirits), & Maia (Goddess of Increase) from whom May gets its name. On May 1, early cultures followed a pastoral tradition of turning sheep, cows, other livestock out to pasture. In early Scandinavia, mock battles between Winter & Summer were enacted at this time. Maypoles in Spain sometimes were topped with a male effigy which was later burned. In Germany, Fir tree was cut on May Eve by young unmarried men, branches removed, decorated, put up in village square, & guarded all night until dance occurred on May Day. In England , permanent Maypoles sometimes were erected on village greens. In some villages, there also were smaller Maypoles in the yards of households.

Fire was a common accompaniment to many May celebrations. Celebrants marked the holiday by lighting fires, dancing, feasting & often performing fertility rites. Many built a bonfire & then moved through it or danced clockwise around it. Livestock was driven around a Beltane fire or between 2 fires for purification & fertility blessings. In ancient times Druid priests kindled it at sacred places. In later times, Christian priests kindled their spring fires in fields near the church after performing a Christian church service. Branches & twigs often were carried around these fire 3 times, then hung over hearths to bless homes.  Risk-takers made a wish for good luck before jumping a bonfire or the flame of a candle. Some believe during May the veil between the human & supernatural worlds is at its thinnest, making them potent days for magic. Beltane may refer to the “fires of Bel,” in honor of the Celtic sun god, Belenus. Some pagans believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Morning Madonna

Unknown Master, Spanish (first half of 15th century) Madonna and Child with Angels Playing Music

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

18C Cross-dressing MAY DAY Parade

Jack-In-The-Green

An 18C hand-colored print of chimney-sweeps’ May Day “Jack in the Green” celebrations in London. The portly “May Queen” on the right of the picture is probably a man. Bawdy & Bacchanalian these exuberant drunken celebrations of the coming in of Summer were gradually suppressed during the formality of the late Victorian period.

Traditional celebrations of the arrival of Summer on May Day had a rich cast of characters, not least the mysterious figure of the sinister Jack-in-the-Green, who wore a large, foliage-covered, framework, usually pyramidal or conical in shape, covering the body from head to foot.  The costume was a development of the 16C & 17C custom of decorating homes (and people) with garlands of flowers & green branches for the May Day celebration.
After becoming a source of competition between Britain's Works Guilds, the greenery became increasingly elaborate, finally covering the entire man. This figure became known as Jack-in-the-Green.  For some reason the figure became particularly associated with chimney sweeps.
1836, 3 May: HATTON-GARDEN. - MY LORD AND MY LADY, OR JACK IN THE GREEN LUMBERED. - Yesterday George Sharpe, Edward Ellis, William Davies, and George Vincent, sweeps, were brought before Mr. Bennett and Mr. Halls, charged by Richard Bird, the street-keeper of Bedford-row, Holborn, with having created a disturbance, and assaulting him. 
    The prisoners were dressed up in an eccentric style. Sharpe and Ellis were clowns; Davis [sic] was papered and spangled as "My Lord," and Vincent, as "Jack in the Green." 
    Bird stated that yesterday morning, about twelve o'clock, prisoners entered Bedford-row with a fife and drum, followed by an immense crowd of persons, when they commenced dancing and disturbing the whole of the neighbourhood. He ordered them to remove, when they refused ; and, on making an effort to move them, Davies struck him, and he was immediately surrounded and beaten by them, and he would have been murdered had it not been for the arrival of the police. 
    A witness corroborated this evidence. 
    Mr. Barnett [sic] asked Davies what he had to say? 
    Davies (in a gruff voice) - Vy, my Lord, I'm a serveep ; my father was a serveep afore me ; and ve alvays vos 'lowed to go about in May. The beadle pushed us along, ven I sartainly did strike him, but he hit my child on its head.
    Eliza Sharpe, who held a child in her arms, said that Bird struck the child on its head with his staff, and pointed out a bruise on its forehead, but she could not say that he did it wilfully. 
    Mr. Barnett [sic] asked Bird why he used his staff? 
    Bird - I was obliged, in self-defence. They were all upon me, your Worship. 
    Mr. Bennett - You have acted rather intemperately ; you ought not to have used your staff. 
    Mr. Bennett - You have acted rather intemperately. You ought not to have used your staff. [sic] 
    Davies - We axed him if we might have a dance, and vile ve wer in the reel round "Jack in the Green" he cum'd and turned us avay for nuffen votsamdever ; there are some o' these chaps vot goes about, vot are not serveeps (pulling up his trowsers), but if yer Lordship vants to be satisfied on that ere subject only look at my knees, (showing large corns on his knee-pans) I assures yer Vorship ve are reglar flue-flakers, and I've been up the smallest flues in the country. I was born a serveep, I've lived a serveep, and I'll die a serveep. (Laughter.) 
    Mr. Bennett - I certainly must say that it is very irregular for such persons to go about the streets creating a mob and disturbance, but it is an ancient custom, and they ought not to be interfered with. (To Bird) - I do not mean to censure you ; but if you had not interfered you would have acted more wisely. If you call upon me to punish them for their conduct I must do so; but, under the circumstances, you having used your staff, I think you would act more wisely not to press the matter. 
    Bird said he would not, and the whole of the prisoners were discharged, and, on leaving the Court, Jack popped into the Green ; and, after regaling themselves at an adjacent public-house, they proceeded opposite the office and struck up a tune, and continued dancing in a most ludicrous manner until they got out of the neighbourhood.  The Morning Post, 4 May 1836, page 4.
1856, 3 May: On the 3rd inst. a young woman, named Mary Sullivan, residing in Paviour's-alley, Lambeth, was attracted by the display of a Jack-in-the-Green, accompanied by my lord and lady and clown. The latter individual indulged very freely in the clown's proverbial mischievous pranks, and suddenly catching hold of the young woman he embraced her. This unexpected act produced a shock on the nervous system. One fit succeeded another. She was removed to the hospital, but never rallied. The Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle, 24 May 1856, page 6.


The concept of Jack in the Green spread to other venues as well.  Isaac Mendes Belisario – Red Set Girls, and Jack-in-the-Green (1837) National Gallery of Jamaica

1863 depiction of a May Day parade featuring a Jack in the Green

By the turn of the 20C the custom had started to wane, as a result of the Victorian disapproval of bawdy behavior. The cross-dressing Lord & Lady of the May, with their practical jokes & excesses, vanished from most local parades.

Morning Madonna

Jacob Jordaens (Flemish artist, 1593-1678) The Holy Family with an Angel

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

17C Romance SPRING & SUMMER Jean Leblond 1605-1666

Jean Leblond 1605-1666 The Four Seasons - Spring


Jean Leblond 1605-1666 The Four Seasons - Summer

18C MAYPOLE Dance 1741 from Vauxhall Gardens

1741 The Milkmaid’s Garland, or Humours of May Day, Francis Hayman.

Centuries of Celebrating Spring

May Day, usually the 1st of May, celebrates the onset of summer, the height of Spring, & the flowering of life. The ancient European festival of spring, Beltane, features a goddess which manifests as the May Queen & Flora. A god also emerges as the May King & Jack in the Green. In ancient European festivals of spring, Beltane, the dance around the Maypole represents their unity with the pole itself being the God & the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Mayday is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, & delight.

Some festival celebrants believed that on May Eve, you could bless your garden in by making love there with your partner. Union with the land was a May 1 focus, often with actual mating outside on other lands to bless fields, herds, home. Revellers welcomed May at dawn with singing & dancing. Later communities celebtated with Morris Dancers & more formal pageants featuring Jack-in-Green& a May Queen to awaken the fertility in the Land.

In ancient springtimes, gathering & exchanging of Flowers & Greens was common on May Eve. Merrymakers decorated homes, barns, & other buildings with green budding branches. Men & women made garlands & wreaths of Flowers & Greens. Early communities prepared a May basket by filling it with flowers & goodwill & then giving it to someone in need of healing & caring. Women in early cultures formed wreaths of freshly picked flowers to wear in the hair to radiate joy & beauty. Early groups often danced the Maypole to feel the balancing of the Divine Female & Male within.

In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora & the flowering of Springtime. Roman Catholic traditions of adoring statues of Mary with garlands of flowers on May 1 have Roman Pagan roots. On May 1, offerings were made to Bona Dea (as Mother Earth), the Lares (household guardian spirits), & Maia (Goddess of Increase) from whom May gets its name. On May 1, early cultures followed a pastoral tradition of turning sheep, cows, other livestock out to pasture. In early Scandinavia, mock battles between Winter & Summer were enacted at this time. Maypoles in Spain sometimes were topped with a male effigy which was later burned. In Germany, Fir tree was cut on May Eve by young unmarried men, branches removed, decorated, put up in village square, & guarded all night until dance occurred on May Day. In England , permanent Maypoles sometimes were erected on village greens. In some villages, there also were smaller Maypoles in the yards of households.

Fire was a common accompaniment to many May celebrations. Celebrants marked the holiday by lighting fires, dancing, feasting & often performing fertility rites. Many built a bonfire & then moved through it or danced clockwise around it. Livestock was driven around a Beltane fire or between 2 fires for purification & fertility blessings. In ancient times Druid priests kindled it at sacred places. In later times, Christian priests kindled their spring fires in fields near the church after performing a Christian church service. Branches & twigs often were carried around these fire 3 times, then hung over hearths to bless homes.  Risk-takers made a wish for good luck before jumping a bonfire or the flame of a candle. Some believe during May the veil between the human & supernatural worlds is at its thinnest, making them potent days for magic. Beltane may refer to the “fires of Bel,” in honor of the Celtic sun god, Belenus. Some pagans believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Morning Madonna

Master of Moulins, Madonna & Child, 1490

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

18C MAY DAY by Josef Frans Nollekens (Flemish-British, 1702-1748)

Josef Frans Nollekens (Flemish-born British artist, 1702-1748) May Day with a Maypole on the hill. 

Centuries of Celebrating Spring

May Day, usually the 1st of May, celebrates the onset of summer, the height of Spring, & the flowering of life. The ancient European festival of spring, Beltane, features a goddess which manifests as the May Queen & Flora. A god also emerges as the May King & Jack in the Green. In ancient European festivals of spring, Beltane, the dance around the Maypole represents their unity with the pole itself being the God & the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Mayday is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, & delight.

Some festival celebrants believed that on May Eve, you could bless your garden in by making love there with your partner. Union with the land was a May 1 focus, often with actual mating outside on other lands to bless fields, herds, home. Revellers welcomed May at dawn with singing & dancing. Later communities celebtated with Morris Dancers & more formal pageants featuring Jack-in-Green& a May Queen to awaken the fertility in the Land.

In ancient springtimes, gathering & exchanging of Flowers & Greens was common on May Eve. Merrymakers decorated homes, barns, & other buildings with green budding branches. Men & women made garlands & wreaths of Flowers & Greens. Early communities prepared a May basket by filling it with flowers & goodwill & then giving it to someone in need of healing & caring. Women in early cultures formed wreaths of freshly picked flowers to wear in the hair to radiate joy & beauty. Early groups often danced the Maypole to feel the balancing of the Divine Female & Male within.

In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora & the flowering of Springtime. Roman Catholic traditions of adoring statues of Mary with garlands of flowers on May 1 have Roman Pagan roots. On May 1, offerings were made to Bona Dea (as Mother Earth), the Lares (household guardian spirits), & Maia (Goddess of Increase) from whom May gets its name. On May 1, early cultures followed a pastoral tradition of turning sheep, cows, other livestock out to pasture. In early Scandinavia, mock battles between Winter & Summer were enacted at this time. Maypoles in Spain sometimes were topped with a male effigy which was later burned. In Germany, Fir trees were cut on May Eve by young unmarried men, branches removed, decorated, put up in village square, & guarded all night until dance occurred on May Day. In England, permanent Maypoles sometimes were erected on village greens. In some villages, there also were smaller Maypoles in the yards of households.

Fire was a common accompaniment to many May celebrations. Celebrants marked the holiday by lighting fires, dancing, feasting & often performing fertility rites. Many built a bonfire & then moved through it or danced clockwise around it. Livestock was driven around a Beltane fire or between 2 fires for purification & fertility blessings. In ancient times Druid priests kindled it at sacred places. In later times, Christian priests kindled their spring fires in fields near the church after performing a Christian church service. Branches & twigs often were carried around these fire 3 times, then hung over hearths to bless homes.  Risk-takers made a wish for good luck before jumping a bonfire or the flame of a candle. Some believe during May the veil between the human & supernatural worlds is at its thinnest, making them potent days for magic. Beltane may refer to the “fires of Bel,” in honor of the Celtic sun god, Belenus. Some pagans believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Morning Madonna

Unknown Master, Flemish (late 15C in Brussels) Virgin and Child crowned by 2 Angels

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Monday, May 21, 2018

1699 Town MAYPOLE by Salomon van Ruysdael

1669 Scene before a Maypole with Alkmaar Church in the Background by Salomon van Ruysdael (Dutch Landscape Painter, 1600-1670)
Centuries of Celebrating Spring

May Day, usually the 1st of May, celebrates the onset of summer, the height of Spring, & the flowering of life. The ancient European festival of spring, Beltane, features a goddess which manifests as the May Queen & Flora. A god also emerges as the May King & Jack in the Green. In ancient European festivals of spring, Beltane, the dance around the Maypole represents their unity with the pole itself being the God & the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Mayday is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, & delight.

Some festival celebrants believed that on May Eve, you could bless your garden in by making love there with your partner. Union with the land was a May 1 focus, often with actual mating outside on other lands to bless fields, herds, home. Revellers welcomed May at dawn with singing & dancing. Later communities celebtated with Morris Dancers & more formal pageants featuring Jack-in-Green& a May Queen to awaken the fertility in the Land.

In ancient springtimes, gathering & exchanging of Flowers & Greens was common on May Eve. Merrymakers decorated homes, barns, & other buildings with green budding branches. Men & women made garlands & wreaths of Flowers & Greens. Early communities prepared a May basket by filling it with flowers & goodwill & then giving it to someone in need of healing & caring. Women in early cultures formed wreaths of freshly picked flowers to wear in the hair to radiate joy & beauty. Early groups often danced the Maypole to feel the balancing of the Divine Female & Male within.

In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora & the flowering of Springtime. Roman Catholic traditions of adoring statues of Mary with garlands of flowers on May 1 have Roman Pagan roots. On May 1, offerings were made to Bona Dea (as Mother Earth), the Lares (household guardian spirits), & Maia (Goddess of Increase) from whom May gets its name. On May 1, early cultures followed a pastoral tradition of turning sheep, cows, other livestock out to pasture. In early Scandinavia, mock battles between Winter & Summer were enacted at this time. Maypoles in Spain sometimes were topped with a male effigy which was later burned. In Germany, Fir trees were cut on May Eve by young unmarried men, branches removed, decorated, put up in village square, & guarded all night until dance occurred on May Day. In England, permanent Maypoles sometimes were erected on village greens. In some villages, there also were smaller Maypoles in the yards of households.

Fire was a common accompaniment to many May celebrations. Celebrants marked the holiday by lighting fires, dancing, feasting & often performing fertility rites. Many built a bonfire & then moved through it or danced clockwise around it. Livestock was driven around a Beltane fire or between 2 fires for purification & fertility blessings. In ancient times Druid priests kindled it at sacred places. In later times, Christian priests kindled their spring fires in fields near the church after performing a Christian church service. Branches & twigs often were carried around these fire 3 times, then hung over hearths to bless homes.  Risk-takers made a wish for good luck before jumping a bonfire or the flame of a candle. Some believe during May the veil between the human & supernatural worlds is at its thinnest, making them potent days for magic. Beltane may refer to the “fires of Bel,” in honor of the Celtic sun god, Belenus. Some pagans believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Morning Madonna

Unknown Master, Italian (active 1520s in Florence). Virgin and Child with Four Saints

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Morning Madonna

Unknown Master, Italian (late 15th century in Valsesia). Madonna del Parto

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

17C Celebration with a Maypole at Weybridge near London

This painting is a copy of a painted wooden overmantle, possibly showing the village of Weybridge c 1699-1701.

In 1571, commissioners were appointed to report on the condition of the bridge across the Wey. They stated that for some years it had been so decayed as to be "unsafe for passengers, and that it was now ruinous...if the queen (Elizabeth I of England) should be at her house at Oatlands and the waters should rise, 'as often they do,' she could not pass to her forest to hunt."  It was accordingly ordered that a new bridge – a horse-bridge like the last – should be built, wood being used for its construction, as stonework would be too costly. The expense was to be born by the queen, as the land on either side belonged to her.  In this painting, many figures in 18C costume are depicted dancing around a painted wooden maypole. The painting is alleged to show the maypole set up on near the Ship Inn with the High Street in background.  Until the late 18C, Weybridge was as a very small village with a river crossing, seed milling to make flour & nurseries which would continue to provide the major source of home-grown income for the village until the 20C.

Morning Madonna

Francesco d'Ubertino Verdi, called Bachiacca [also known as Francesco Ubertini, il Bacchiacca] (1494 – 1557) Mary and Child

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Friday, May 18, 2018

17C Elegant figures playing Musical Instruments by a MAYPOLE by Pieter Gysels (1621-1691)

17C Pieter Gysels (1621-1691) Elegant figures playing Musical Instruments around a Maypole next to a Formal Garden


Centuries of Celebrating Spring

May Day, usually the 1st of May, celebrates the onset of summer, the height of Spring, & the flowering of life. The ancient European festival of spring, Beltane, features a goddess which manifests as the May Queen & Flora. A god also emerges as the May King & Jack in the Green. In ancient European festivals of spring, Beltane, the dance around the Maypole represents their unity with the pole itself being the God & the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Mayday is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, & delight.

Some festival celebrants believed that on May Eve, you could bless your garden in by making love there with your partner. Union with the land was a May 1 focus, often with actual mating outside on other lands to bless fields, herds, home. Revellers welcomed May at dawn with singing & dancing. Later communities celebtated with Morris Dancers & more formal pageants featuring Jack-in-Green& a May Queen to awaken the fertility in the Land.

In ancient springtimes, gathering & exchanging of Flowers & Greens was common on May Eve. Merrymakers decorated homes, barns, & other buildings with green budding branches. Men & women made garlands & wreaths of Flowers & Greens. Early communities prepared a May basket by filling it with flowers & goodwill & then giving it to someone in need of healing & caring. Women in early cultures formed wreaths of freshly picked flowers to wear in the hair to radiate joy & beauty. Early groups often danced the Maypole to feel the balancing of the Divine Female & Male within.

In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora & the flowering of Springtime. Roman Catholic traditions of adoring statues of Mary with garlands of flowers on May 1 have Roman Pagan roots. On May 1, offerings were made to Bona Dea (as Mother Earth), the Lares (household guardian spirits), & Maia (Goddess of Increase) from whom May gets its name. On May 1, early cultures followed a pastoral tradition of turning sheep, cows, other livestock out to pasture. In early Scandinavia, mock battles between Winter & Summer were enacted at this time. Maypoles in Spain sometimes were topped with a male effigy which was later burned. In Germany, Fir trees were cut on May Eve by young unmarried men, branches removed, decorated, put up in village square, & guarded all night until dance occurred on May Day. In England, permanent Maypoles sometimes were erected on village greens. In some villages, there also were smaller Maypoles in the yards of households.

Fire was a common accompaniment to many May celebrations. Celebrants marked the holiday by lighting fires, dancing, feasting & often performing fertility rites. Many built a bonfire & then moved through it or danced clockwise around it. Livestock was driven around a Beltane fire or between 2 fires for purification & fertility blessings. In ancient times Druid priests kindled it at sacred places. In later times, Christian priests kindled their spring fires in fields near the church after performing a Christian church service. Branches & twigs often were carried around these fire 3 times, then hung over hearths to bless homes.  Risk-takers made a wish for good luck before jumping a bonfire or the flame of a candle. Some believe during May the veil between the human & supernatural worlds is at its thinnest, making them potent days for magic. Beltane may refer to the “fires of Bel,” in honor of the Celtic sun god, Belenus. Some pagans believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Morning Madonna


Hans, the Younger Holbein (1497-1543). The Solothurn Madonna (detail) 1522

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

1697 Personification of Flora, Goddess of Flowers

Luca Giordano & Andrea Belvedere, Flora, Goddess of Flowers, Ca. 1697

"In ancient mythology, there was a god & goddess for everything; anything from the generic deity above all others to love to home life...One mythology painting is from the collection of the Museo Nacional del Prado in Spain. The Goddess Flora (La Diosa Flora), Luca Giordano & Andrea Belvedere, c. 1697... 

"Luca Giordano was considered a very popular Spanish painter within the Spanish court under Charles II. While, Andrea Belvedere, who lived in Spain from c. 1694 to c. 1700 was believed to be called from his home in Naples, Italy, by Giordano himself, to paint for the Spanish court. The work is supposedly one of several collaborations between Giordano (who painted the goddess Flora & the seated women) & Belvedere (who executed all the intricate flowers)... 


"The Goddess Flora...depicts the goddess sitting on a raised throne surrounded by 4 women, with whom she shares various, colorful flowers. These are taken from a massive, overflowing cornucopia in her left arm...


"All 5 women are dressed mostly in “classical”clothing, but have touches of contemporary pieces...The maiden to Flora’s right wears a simple string of pearls around her neck; & another maiden has a pair of pearl, teardrop-shaped earrings on. Compared to the muted tones of the clothing of the 5 women, the flowers are vibrantly painted & dominate the color scheme of the whole piece...The flowers easily show us the contrasts in the styles of Giordano & Belvedere.


"The 4 women, whose dresses are of completely different colors, together as a group may, in theory, represent the “Four Seasons”. The woman on the right of Flora wears a garland of flowers in her hair & another woman, to Flora’s left, gathers a rather large bundle of flowers. They easily could represent Spring & Summer. Yet another woman is in a rust-colored dress...would be Autumn. Finally, the last woman with no flowers could be Winter.


"Paintings like this were a favorite subject of art commissioned for royalty all over the world, as a passion for the story; as much as, the use of that myth to elevate themselves as divinely-appointed rulers..." 


Posted 13th February 2013 by Christopher M. Hammel
The "Unofficial" Blog of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Morning Madonna

Unknown Flemish Master Virgin and Child 1490s

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

16C Flemish Villagers Dance around the MAYPOLE

Pieter Bruegel the Elder (Flemish artist, 1525-1569) St. George's Kermis with the Dance around the Maypole


Centuries of Celebrating Spring

May Day, usually the 1st of May, celebrates the onset of summer, the height of Spring, & the flowering of life. The ancient European festival of spring, Beltane, features a goddess which manifests as the May Queen & Flora. A god also emerges as the May King & Jack in the Green. In ancient European festivals of spring, Beltane, the dance around the Maypole represents their unity with the pole itself being the God & the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Mayday is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, & delight.

Some festival celebrants believed that on May Eve, you could bless your garden in by making love there with your partner. Union with the land was a May 1 focus, often with actual mating outside on other lands to bless fields, herds, home. Revellers welcomed May at dawn with singing & dancing. Later communities celebtated with Morris Dancers & more formal pageants featuring Jack-in-Green& a May Queen to awaken the fertility in the Land.

In ancient springtimes, gathering & exchanging of Flowers & Greens was common on May Eve. Merrymakers decorated homes, barns, & other buildings with green budding branches. Men & women made garlands & wreaths of Flowers & Greens. Early communities prepared a May basket by filling it with flowers & goodwill & then giving it to someone in need of healing & caring. Women in early cultures formed wreaths of freshly picked flowers to wear in the hair to radiate joy & beauty. Early groups often danced the Maypole to feel the balancing of the Divine Female & Male within.

In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora & the flowering of Springtime. Roman Catholic traditions of adoring statues of Mary with garlands of flowers on May 1 have Roman Pagan roots. On May 1, offerings were made to Bona Dea (as Mother Earth), the Lares (household guardian spirits), & Maia (Goddess of Increase) from whom May gets its name. On May 1, early cultures followed a pastoral tradition of turning sheep, cows, other livestock out to pasture. In early Scandinavia, mock battles between Winter & Summer were enacted at this time. Maypoles in Spain sometimes were topped with a male effigy which was later burned. In Germany, Fir trees were cut on May Eve by young unmarried men, branches removed, decorated, put up in village square, & guarded all night until dance occurred on May Day. In England, permanent Maypoles sometimes were erected on village greens. In some villages, there also were smaller Maypoles in the yards of households.

Fire was a common accompaniment to many May celebrations. Celebrants marked the holiday by lighting fires, dancing, feasting & often performing fertility rites. Many built a bonfire & then moved through it or danced clockwise around it. Livestock was driven around a Beltane fire or between 2 fires for purification & fertility blessings. In ancient times Druid priests kindled it at sacred places. In later times, Christian priests kindled their spring fires in fields near the church after performing a Christian church service. Branches & twigs often were carried around these fire 3 times, then hung over hearths to bless homes.  Risk-takers made a wish for good luck before jumping a bonfire or the flame of a candle. Some believe during May the veil between the human & supernatural worlds is at its thinnest, making them potent days for magic. Beltane may refer to the “fires of Bel,” in honor of the Celtic sun god, Belenus. Some pagans believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Morning Madonna

Alonso Berruguete (Spanish artist, 1488-1561) Madonna and Child

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

17C Personification of MAY by Joachim von Sandrart (1606-1688)

 Joachim von Sandrart (1606-1688) The Month of May

Centuries of Celebrating Spring

May Day, usually the 1st of May, celebrates the onset of summer, the height of Spring, & the flowering of life. The ancient European festival of spring, Beltane, features a goddess which manifests as the May Queen & Flora. A god also emerges as the May King & Jack in the Green. In ancient European festivals of spring, Beltane, the dance around the Maypole represents their unity with the pole itself being the God & the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Mayday is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, & delight.

Some festival celebrants believed that on May Eve, you could bless your garden in by making love there with your partner. Union with the land was a May 1 focus, often with actual mating outside on other lands to bless fields, herds, home. Revellers welcomed May at dawn with singing & dancing. Later communities celebtated with Morris Dancers & more formal pageants featuring Jack-in-Green& a May Queen to awaken the fertility in the Land.

In ancient springtimes, gathering & exchanging of Flowers & Greens was common on May Eve. Merrymakers decorated homes, barns, & other buildings with green budding branches. Men & women made garlands & wreaths of Flowers & Greens. Early communities prepared a May basket by filling it with flowers & goodwill & then giving it to someone in need of healing & caring. Women in early cultures formed wreaths of freshly picked flowers to wear in the hair to radiate joy & beauty. Early groups often danced the Maypole to feel the balancing of the Divine Female & Male within.

In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora & the flowering of Springtime. Roman Catholic traditions of adoring statues of Mary with garlands of flowers on May 1 have Roman Pagan roots. On May 1, offerings were made to Bona Dea (as Mother Earth), the Lares (household guardian spirits), & Maia (Goddess of Increase) from whom May gets its name. On May 1, early cultures followed a pastoral tradition of turning sheep, cows, other livestock out to pasture. In early Scandinavia, mock battles between Winter & Summer were enacted at this time. Maypoles in Spain sometimes were topped with a male effigy which was later burned. In Germany, Fir trees were cut on May Eve by young unmarried men, branches removed, decorated, put up in village square, & guarded all night until dance occurred on May Day. In England, permanent Maypoles sometimes were erected on village greens. In some villages, there also were smaller Maypoles in the yards of households.

Fire was a common accompaniment to many May celebrations. Celebrants marked the holiday by lighting fires, dancing, feasting & often performing fertility rites. Many built a bonfire & then moved through it or danced clockwise around it. Livestock was driven around a Beltane fire or between 2 fires for purification & fertility blessings. In ancient times Druid priests kindled it at sacred places. In later times, Christian priests kindled their spring fires in fields near the church after performing a Christian church service. Branches & twigs often were carried around these fire 3 times, then hung over hearths to bless homes.  Risk-takers made a wish for good luck before jumping a bonfire or the flame of a candle. Some believe during May the veil between the human & supernatural worlds is at its thinnest, making them potent days for magic. Beltane may refer to the “fires of Bel,” in honor of the Celtic sun god, Belenus. Some pagans believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Morning Madonna


Virgin and Child 1495-1505, a painting by Flemish Unknown Masters

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were the core of early Western art.

Monday, May 14, 2018

1583 English Rant on MAYPOLE & Women Defiled

May Pole by Hans Sebald Beham, woodcut, 1534, 1500-1550 No. 76 Meldemann

In his 1583 Anatomy of Abuses, Philip Stubbs (c.1555-1610) wrote of his concerns about such May Day celebrations, "All the young men and maids, old men and wives, run gadding over night to the woods, grove, hills, and mountains, where they spend all the night in pleasant pastimes; and in the morning they return, bringing with them...their May pole, which they bring home with great veneration, as thus: they have twenty or forty yoke of oxen, every ox having a sweet nose-gay of flowers placed on the tip of his horns, and these oxen draw home this May pole (this stinking idol, rather) which is covered allover with flowers and herbs, bound round with strings, from the top to the bottom, and sometimes painted with variable colours, with three hundred men, women, and children following with great devotion. And thus being reared up...they fall to dance about it, like as the heathen people did at the dedication of the Idols....I have heard it credibly reported...that of forty, three-score, or a hundred maids going to the wood over night, there have scarcely the third part of them returned home again undefiled. These be the fruits with which these cursed pastimes bring forth."