May Day celebrations, early 20th century

This photograph is taken from a magic lantern slide. It shows numerous girls dancing around a may pole, a traditional way of celebrating May Day.

Sing-along at home

According to Jacqueline Simpson’s book The Folklore of Sussex, local children in the 1930s were not just dancing around may poles.

Brighton children would go around houses with paper flowers and ribbons stitched to their clothes, rattling a moneybox and chanting a corrupt version of the old rhyme:

‘The first of May is Garland Day,

The second of May is Washing Day.’

Children in Hove had a naughtier version:

‘The first of May is Pinch-Bum Day,

The Second of May is Sting-Nettle Day’

Where is this?

We can’t confirm where the photograph was taken. Some think it might be in Preston Park, for others it’s the Level.

If you have a suggestion, please leave it in the comments below.

Author: Dan Robertson, Curator of Local History and Archaeology



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