MFS May Day Celebration takes place Friday, May 4

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MFS will celebrate one of its oldest and most festive traditions, May Day, on Friday, May 4, from 12:15 – 2:45 p.m. The event, which dates back to 1912, will include the festive Maypole Dance along with performances, music, activities, crafts, and roving costumed characters. Every four years, MFS hosts this Elizabethan celebration of spring that includes all students, from preschool through 12th grade, parents, and alumni. May Day coincides with the school’s Alumni Weekend celebration which takes place May 4-5.

May Day festivities kick off with a parade of classes departing from in front of the Lower School. All students, faculty, and staff will be dressed in May Day costumes. Opening ceremonies follow at the “May Day Amphitheater,” located on the athletic fields. The May King, Queen, and Regent will be crowned at this time. Following the opening ceremonies, a wide range of activities will be offered, including musical and theatrical performances, human chess, storytelling, character presentations, a trebuchet launch and much more. Festivities culminate with the Maypole Dance performed by members of the Class of 2018.

Highlighted activities during the afternoon include:

  • 12:15 p.m. – The Grand Procession, a parade of classes
  • 1:00 p.m. – Opening Ceremonies and Crowning of May Queen, King, and Regent
  • 1:05 p.m. – Third and Fourth Grade Morris Dancing (English folk-style dance)
  • 1:05 p.m. – Performance of Pyramus & Thisbe
  • 1:25 p.m. – Acrobatics Performance
  • 1:30 p.m. – Performance by Student Madrigals
  • 1:40 p.m. – Performance by Upper School Dance Team
  • 1:45 p.m. – Human Chess Match
  • 1:50 p.m. – Performance by Faculty and Staff Madrigals
  • 2:00 p.m. – Performance by 5th Grade and Middle School Choirs
  • 2:10 p.m. – Performance by Faculty and Staff Dance Group
  • 2:20 p.m. – Maypole Dance and Performance by Upper School Symphonic Ensemble

In conjunction with the May Day Celebration of Community, the school will also conduct a food drive to benefit the Food Bank of South Jersey which distributes 12 million pounds of food a year to nearly 200,000 individuals through its network of over 200 emergency feeding programs.  Donations to the Food Bank are made available to programs located throughout Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, and Salem counties.

May Day is based on an ancient Roman festival that lasted from late April to early May, in which Romans offered flowers to Flora, their goddess of spring. The Romans brought that custom to all European lands they conquered, making May Day a worldwide event.

By the Middle Ages, it became especially popular in England, where people rose early in the morning to “bring in the May.” They gathered flowers and tree branches to decorate their homes and later went to the town square where the Maypole — often over 100 feet tall — was raised. As a woman representing the May Queen presided over the ceremony, dancers held the streamers that fell from the top of the pole and circled around it, weaving the streamers into tight patterns. These agricultural festivals were intended to ensure the fertility of the crops.

At MFS, May Day has been observed since 1912. Beginning in the 1950s, it changed from an annual event to a rotating celebration, sometimes once every two years and, more recently, every four years. It has traditionally been modeled after a May Day of the Elizabethan Period in England.

Members of this year’s senior class will perform the Maypole Dance, accompanied by the Upper School Symphonic Ensemble. The Maypole Dancers are seniors Connor Baraldi, Dakota Chambers, Amanda Cooper, Margaux Fox, Anna Goula, Sujin Kim, Libby Mayer, Jaspreet Momi, Marcel Nelson, Blaize Nyzio, Isabella Pillows, Kayleigh Schweiker, and Rowan Suarez.

The King, Queen, and Regent are randomly selected from those who express interest in the roles. The ceremonial court presides over the May Day events. Preschoolers costumed in petals and ivy will present flowers to the court, another long-standing tradition in which the school’s youngest students honor those who are graduating.

The King, Queen, and Regent are seniors Piercson Sheehan, Alexis Kasper, and Will Kimberly. Seniors who are members of the court include Macy Brooks, Moises Cosme, George Diamond, Donavon Dugard, Zachary Farber, Chloe Jones, Siani Lee-Simmons, Lawrence Miles, Megan Mininno, and Imani Wingfield.