Palo de Mayo

I should have posted this yesterday on May Day but here it is. This is in honor of my homeland Nicaragua.

Palo de Mayo, known as Maypole in English, is an Afro-Caribbean dance festival celebrated in various parts of Central and South America. The Palo de Mayo festival spans the entire month of May and is particularly popular along the Caribbean coast. The dances performed during Palo de Mayo feature incredibly sensual movements that have been derived from a number of communities in Nicaragua, Belize, Honduras and Panama.

Lets educate ourselves a little bit shall we? Here is a little bit of history for you:

Palo de Mayo, or the Maypole festival in English, is a huge celebration meant to welcome the spring season and the rain and new life that comes with it. It prominently features a maypole, which is a tall wooden pole that has been decorated with several long, colored ribbons suspended from the top. This maypole is used at the heart of the dance and is the reason for the English name given to the tradition.

It is unclear how exactly Palo De Mayo came to be celebrated in Panama, though historians trace origins back to Nicaraguan Creoles who inhabited Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast. Other historians disagree with this notion, believing the Maypole Festival has its roots in Jamaica. Despite these disagreements, Palo de Mayo has become an integral part in Nicaraguan culture and several other countries in Central and South America.

Palo de Mayo is celebrated differently in Panama than it is in Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua and other places. In Belize and the Honduras Bay Islands, for instance, the dance originated from a tradition where women danced around a maypole with two men approaching them in the hopes of joining them. The men’s efforts are put off by hand gestures made by the dancing women, while the women continue dancing.

I have so many memories of being a little girl back home and dancing to this. I love my culture, the diversity and our history. I think a trip to the coasts of Nicaragua is way over do for me. Bluefield and Corn Island, you’re not ready for this girl!

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