Friday, 1 May 2009

May Day, 1954, Ashford, Kent

In Ashford, Kent, the garland-carrying is less ostentatious. A correspondent writes on May Day, 1954:

'This morning three girls (looking the Marsh or Gipsy type) came to the door with a pole held between two girls with a thick navy cloth draped over it. - "Would you like to see the garland?"

'I was busy and refused. We have only been here three years, and it was only when they had gone that I remembered that it was May Day. I went to our neighbour next door and asked if it was a local custom. She said that in the old days and up to the last war children brought these wreaths or garlands to the door on May morning always covered. In answer to the question you lift the curtain and criticise the garland - saying if it is better or worse than the others you have seen; and if it is up to standard you reward with a copper or two.'

Iona and Peter Opie, The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren (St Albans: Paladin, 1977; first pub. 1959), p. 283

My mother grew up in Ashford, but does not recall this custom.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Paul I can't put my hands on it at the moment - I know where it should be but it isn't! Somewhere I have another mention of May Day garlands in Ashford in the 1950s where it mentions the girls taking round decorated dolls prams.
    Pete Castle