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May Day celebrations on Prospect Hill
Courtesy MHC Archives
May Day celebrations on Skinner Green in 2002 Courtesy of J. Lewis

Original Pageantry - May Day celebrations at Mount Holyoke College are recorded as far back as 1896. Originally produced as a fundraiser for the school by the Dramatic Club, the pageant included at least one play, sometimes two. Originally only Shakespearean plays were performed, but eventually many different styles were used, including some of the students' own works. The May Queen and her court were presented, and several dances, including the requisite maypole dance, were performed. Each pageant was unique, with a greater level of complexity than the year before, and a new theme depending upon the plays to be performed. The pageant originally occurred on Prospect Hill, and was later moved to Pageant Green. The full pageants continued until 1949, but May Queens were crowned until 1967. May Day activities were gradually changed to advertise the highlights of college life to the parents of students, and it eventually became what is now known as Parent's Weekend. Parents Weekend was moved to October in 1979, thereby destroying any link to its prior May Day celebration role.

May Day Resurrected - In 2002, May Day was reborn. Art students built a maypole, and put it up on Skinner Green. Many students participated in dancing around the maypole -- some dressed in white with green girdles while many just wandered into the festivities in their normal clothing. It became a celebration of spring and each other. The tradition was kept in 2003, and preparations are being made for May Day 2004. After a long hiatus, May Day has been brought back to life and has become once more a lasting tradition.

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This page was created by Jennifer Loomer '04 and Katherine Underwood '05 in History 283, Fall Semester 2003 and