Saturday, May 1, 2010

Maîade, a spring celebration


I was really surprised when a maypole suddenly turned up in front of my neighbours house on the first of May. We had just moved in and I had no idea this was a tradition typical for Landes. As the day passed I realised that there were plenty of them around the village. Little signs indicated if it was to celebrate a birthday or a wedding day or something else....

In Landes the night preceding the first of May is full of activities for many people. The maypoles decorated with paper flowers are transported and put up in the secret of the night. Measuring 4-6 metres, this represents some work! Each pole is unique. It is made with a tree, with or without bark, decorated with garlands of ivy and paper flowers. The decoration work can demand a couple of evenings for ten people... if they are done properly.


To be real honest, I have since then seen the same kind of maypoles in Gironde and Dordorgne, but it seemed to me that they usually celebrate the local politics, not birthdays.

In Sweden we traditionally celebrate the arrival of summer at midsummer, Saint John`s eve, dancing around a flower decorated midsommarstång. Our flowers are real and we add a horizontal bar and two garlands, but otherwise they are pretty similiar to the French ones...



  1. I was always interested in the origins of the maypole. Growing up, I thought it was a South-West thing, then I realized that it was common in many Northern European countries.
    I'm pretty sure the Aquitaine maypole comes from England, back when Aquitaine was English, but then, maybe it really comes from Scandinavia, back when England was (partly) Viking territory.
    I should check it out someday (I guess Google and Wikipedia have the answers)

  2. To be honest I was really surprised to see those maypoles because I thought it was a unique thing for Sweden... didn't really write that here because now I feel silly...

  3. En lisant ton blog, je découvre l'histoire de ces arbres. Chaque fois qu'on vous rend visite, on en voit sur la route et souvent je me suis posée la question de leur signification (Mariage,Election,...). Alors merci Eva pour la réponse.


Hi! Please say hello! It is so nice to see if somebody has read a post!

Related Posts with Thumbnails