Preparations for 2014 already underway!
It may be well over a year until the next Maypole Festival… but preparations are already well underway! Those familiar with our historic maypole will know that it is adorned with 4 colourful garlands. The following extract from the Barwick in Elmet Historical Society website (written by Jane Deacon) explains their significance.
“In the past, young people would go to the woods on the night before May Day or early in the morning and bring back a tree decorated with flowers and garlands. The tree would be set up in a central place as a Maypole and would be the focal point of the day’s celebrations. Garlands have always played an important part in the proceedings and they are described in the Literary Gazette in 1847 as being “firmed from a hoop for a rim with two half hoops attached to it, crossed above, much in the shape of a crown; each member is beautifully adorned with flowers.” (Our own garlands are still very similar to this in shape). The garlands were suspended on a pole and taken round from house to house, just as we still do today.”
You can read the full article here.
So why are we writing about the garlands now? Well the answer is quite simple! They take a long time to make! Each garland is comprised of approximately 1,500 individual rosettes. Everyone of these has to be individually created from fabric, a procedure which involves measuring, cutting, gathering, sewing, and finally stitching on to a large frame. All of this is traditionally done by hand, and it’s a process which takes many, many hours!
As the expression goes, ‘many hands make light work’ and the making of the garlands is a job that is best shared. Traditionally, this task has been undertaken by the ladies of the village, but nowadays absolutely anyone can get involved (it’s great fun for the kids’ too, provided they are supervised by a responsible adult of course!).
To give us time to parade them around the village, we need to have the garlands completed several weeks in advance of the Maypole Festival. Every house is visited by a hardy crew of garland carriers… a tradition dating back over 100 years (although it was probably a lot easier back then, with far fewer houses to cover!). This sounds like an easy job, but with finished garlands weighing in at several kilos, it can be quite challenging knocking on hundreds of doors.
So once again, here we are with 6,000 rosettes required… and just 12 months to make them. That might sound a long time, but at the time of writing it means we need to make 100 rosettes every single week, without a break! And with every individual rosette taking a few minutes to make, that’s a lot of hours!
So how can you get involved? Well it’s quite easy… simply visit our dedicated Barwick Garlanders facebook page which gives further information on how to make the rosettes… we’ve even created a handy instructional video that demonstrates the process! There are some considerations when making the rosettes (such as the best fabric and thread to use) so even if you’ve made them before, we recommend you take a look at this to refresh your memory. Once you’ve done that, gather up some old fabric and thread and get sewing!
Finally, please do let us know how many rosettes you will be willing to make, which will help us to manage the process. Finished rosettes can be dropped off at the address shown on our contact page.
Happy sewing everyone!
For more statistics on the maypole and its garlands, please visit our FAQ page.