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Morris Dancing

Morris Dancing
Morris dancing at Hailsham, Sussex ©TopFoto.co.uk

Every May Day, outside the village pubs of England, strangely clad people can be seen leaping into the air, waving handkerchiefs and sticks, with bells jingling from their clothing. This traditional ritual to welcome the return of spring is called morris dancing, and it goes back at least to the 15th century.

Despite its early origins, morris dancing is a reinvented tradition, part of the great British folk revival of the late 19th century. At the time, it had died out in all but a few villages, but was revived by folk music researcher Cecil Sharp.

Today, morris sides, for women as well as men, can be found not just across Britain, but in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

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