Monday, 5 May 2014

Whitstable May Day Celebrations 2014

We do something a certain way once and then twice and them before we know it we have developed a habit. These habits go, to paraphrase the Talmud, from the lightness of a spider's web to the strength of a cable.
Tristan Gooley The Natural Explorer: Understanding Your Landscape

Dead Horse Morris in Whitstable high street
Image credit: SM Jenkin
I've been reading a fantastic book, the quote from which is above. It's an exploration of exploration, asking how people forge their own personal connection with the places they visit. It's a fascinating journey into different landscapes and the ways that people impact on them, are affected by them and share them with others.

So after reading the chapter about customs and habits, I decided to brush away the cobwebs, avoid the engineering works into Rochester, and try something new. I visited the May Day celebrations in Whitstable, revived back in 1976 and running yearly ever since. It was a fantastic day with Morris sides dancing and parading in the sunshine from the library to the harbour, through the high street to the castle. They escorted Jack-in-the-green, Robin Hood and maid Marion, the hobby horse (oss) and a bear.

What is the deal with the bear - is it related to  the straw bear? The straw bear has been described as a personification of the winter, but is that all there is to it?

The Oyster Morris Jack-in-the-green can be viewed courtesy of the company of the green men. Some information about British Traditional events can be found in the: Calendar Customs