The Maypole Festival – Keeping Tradition Alive

Today, the ancient Maypole celebration that has played a part in the history of so many cultures is becoming a forgotten tradition. However in Bluefields, Nicaragua which is far away from where this festive tradition is likely rooted, the celebration is very much alive.

It is thought that the maypole has its roots in Germany where it played a role in the pagan celebrations surrounding the rebirth of life in Spring. However, it is a tradition that has played a role in celebrations in virtually every corner of Europe. Traditionally, the maypole itself was just a tall wooden pole which was erected in the ground and adorned with several long, colored ribbons, flowers and other greenery. It would seem that the intricate dances now commonly associated with the maypole only originated during the 19th century in Italy. The trend to use a shorter pole with many colored ribbons soon became very popular and even today school children may be taught to dance around the pole weaving these intricate and colorful patterns.

So how did this celebration make its way to South America? It would seem that it arrived with the European colonists and has played a part in celebrations ever since. Today the maypole festival in Bluefields is held every year during May. It is somewhat unique in that it is an exciting and colorful mixture of European culture and Afro-Caribbean traditions. This vibrant and exciting showcase of the Creole culture of Nicaragua is part of a month of merrymaking and festivities. The incessant beat of Caribbean music continues to resound during the course of the month and festivities may include bright, colorful costumes, beautifully decorated floats and annual events such as the Miss Mayo Queen competition. The music is carried throughout the town by means of loudspeakers and there is a continual air of festivity.

The maypole festival in Nicaragua is a time when love, fertility and wedlock are strongly emphasized and these correspond with the reawakening of the earth during springtime. If this sounds like your idea of fun then why not make a stop at Bluefields in Nicaragua during the month of May and experience the fun and energy for yourself.