Today we were delighted to learn about and take part in a traditional English folk dance, known as Morris Dancing.
Historically, people living on farms were very aware of the inconsistency of farming and how some years crops may be very prosperous and other years, they may not be so fortunate. Therefore, Morris Dancers created a ritual dance that they believed could magically impact a successful crop season!
Certain dance movements were used to send away any bad spirits who could would ruin the crops - using bells and hankes. They would also jump high to encourage the crops to grow up and strong. The Morris Dances would typically have different dancers for certain seasons but it traditionally began on May Day (the first day of May) - Vancouver's first day of summer in the agricultural world.
Different dances for different times of the year but traditionally it would start on May Days for the summer. Morris dancers on May 1st get up before dawn and perform these ritual dances to ensure that the sun comes up for the next year and to celebrate the beginning of summer.
We also learned about Mummers plays, which were practiced in countries like England and Ireland, and even Canada - specifically Newfoundland. Around holidays like Christmas and Easter, people would get dressed up in costume and disguise and surprise people in their homes with a play - involving morris dances and songs that everyone knew already. We learned that in Vancouver you can see a comical play similar to the traditional mummers plays.
After we learned about the history of Morris Dances, we were fortunate enough to have Morris Dancers come to the Orchard Garden and teach us a couple dances.
To end the day we got to weave ribbon together by weaving in and around each other. I couldn't help but think how great this activity would be for a community building lesson in the schools - insinuating a close knit community within the classroom.