THE HASTINGS MAY QUEEN
I hadn't seen a May Pole since I was a child and even then, they were thin on the ground in South London! Here in Hastings, the traditional crowning of the May Queen and dancing the May Pole is upheld by a committed group of people, many of whom get involved at a young age and stay involved for the rest of their lives.
As a personification of May and therefore Spring time, the May Queen has the important role of leading and beginning the May celebrations. This year's queen was crowned with flowers and gave a speech related to the importance of nature and our responsibilities to care for it. Very fitting for the setting of the events at Alexandra Park.
The celebrations include Morris dancing (as with every Hastings event!) and dancing the May Pole- another symbolism of the "warm season." Dancing the May Pole is a complex affair involving moving the various ribbons attached to the pole so as to form intricate patterns, such as that of a spiders-web. It's a conglomeration of Maths, timing, movement and art which necessitates a lot of concentration and focus on the part of the girls dancing.
Finally, there was the presentation of floral garlands made by various members of the community. Barry (pictured in the top-hat), told me that the garlands are very much connected to Chimney Sweeps who traditionally made the biggest and best garlands in return for coins. According to Barry, their garlands became so big that eventually they covered a whole man and that is how Jack In The Green was born.