Thursday, May 1, 2008

Happy May Day!

At Bryn Mawr we celebrate May Day on the first Sunday of May with an all day party. May Day begins with the seniors (dressed in white like all of the students for the day) rising to go wake the President of the College. The traditional wake-up song is "The Hunt is Up" but it has been replaced sporadically with songs such as "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go." After that, each class goes to a different dining hall for a scrumtous breakfast of strawberries and cream.
Following breakfast, May Day really gets kicked off with a huge parade that begins at Rockefeller Arch and ends on Merion Green. A bagpiper leads the procession, which consists of the President of the College, her attendants, the Traditions Mistresses, the senior class presidents, the Maypole dancers, the Worthies, and the Players. In a Grand May Day parade, which happens once every four years, Queen Elizabeth is added to the list, and it is rumored that elephants and such are brought in for such spectacles. My freshman year was Grand May Day. The college had brought in one of those huge, ornate, old-fashioned carousels and set it up for rides in the middle of campus. The president of the college changes her mode of transportation every year. One year she and her attendants rode in on Harleys.
After the parade, there is Maypole Dancing. Each class gets a Maypole in its class color. Maypole dancing is done while the Night Owls sing "To the Maypole." The seniors pretty much win every year, wheter their ribbons are a mangled mess or not.
There are many events throughout the day, including Scottish dancing, Morris dancing, the traditional King Arthur Play, the sophomore class play, the Robin Hood Play, the craziest a'cappella concert of the year, various cultural dancing and music displays, the May Hole dance (uniquely Bryn Mawr) and there is always a big concert in the afternoon with such performers as The Nields, Voices on the Verge, and Dar Williams.

Another main event of the day is when the seniors roll their hoops down senior row. Superstition holds that the winner is the first to receive a graduate degree and the second-place finish is the first to marry.

After dinner we hold our final step sing of the year. This particular Step Sing is usually very emotional, since the end involves singing the goodnight song to the seniors (it is usually sung to the frosh) as the seniors leave the senior steps and the juniors take over. This is the spot when the juniors become seniors, in a traditional sense, and they obtain the right to begin the college cheer, the Anassa.
The day ends with a late night showing of fellow Mawrtyr, Katherine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story.
I mark May Day on my calendar every year. It is one of those things that make me wish I was still in college.

So to all you lovely Bryn Mawr Women (BMW's) out there, Happy May Day!

Thanks to Traditions Mistress, Carolyn and her webpage for some of the descriptions and the pictures.


Becca said...

uhm, why didn't I go to Bryn Mawr? I feel like I'm watching Mona Lisa Smile...

Heather said...

What a party!!! Good description Becca, I feel the same way!!

yamsey said...

The school was basically a giant sorority with a bunch of fun traditions. May Day was amazing but nothing compared to some of the other traditions.

International Tease said...

Happy May Day!!! Reading your post really made me miss Bryn Mawr... Hopefully, one of these days I can come back up for that weekend... I promise I'll bring my lantern! :D