Moorestown Friends School (MFS) will celebrate one of its oldest traditions, May Day, on Friday, May 2, 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 involves all students, from preschool through 12th grade. May Day coincides with the school’s Alumni Weekend celebration which takes place May 2-3.
May Day festivities kick off at 12:15 p.m. 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 are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. at the “May Day Amphitheater,” located on the athletic fields. The May King and Queen 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, a pilgrimage educating students about various religious faiths, and much more. Festivities culminate at 2:20 p.m. with the Maypole Dance performed by members of the Class of 2014.
Highlighted activities during the afternoon include:
12:15 p.m. – The Grand Procession, a parade of classes
1 p.m. – Opening Ceremonies and Crowning of May Queen and King
1:15 p.m. – Third and Fourth Grade Song & Morris Dancing (English folk-style dance)
1:30 p.m. – Performance of Pyramus & Thisbe
1:30 p.m. – Human Chess
1:45 p.m. – Performance of Cervantes’ Don Quixote
2 p.m. – Performance by Madrigals/Instrumentals
2:20 p.m. – Maypole Dance and Performance by Upper School Symphonic Ensemble
Juggling performances by the Give & Take Jugglers.
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 the 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 fertility of the crops.
At Moorestown Friends School, 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 King and Queen of May Day are seniors Neil Sefah and Courtney Foat. Seniors who are members of the court are Eric Barash, Jasmine Brown, Emma Cain, Sloane Gandler, Amy Gilligan, Nneka Hillocks, Ryan Kirby, Steven Mannion, Daniel McGinn, Kirsten Mullen, Andrew Schultz, and Pierce Williams.
The King and Queen 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 longstanding tradition at MFS in which the school’s youngest students honor those who are graduating.
The Maypole Dancers are seniors Sarah Applegate, Elizabeth Adler, Eliezer Cartagena, Maddie Cohen, Emma Giordano, Ciani Green, Maureen Kelleher, Emily McKeown, Joshua Kirkpatrick, Jenny Park, Kenan Soso, and Angela Yuan.