THE MUMMERS’ DANCE!

The lyrics of, “The Mummers’ Dance” by Canadian Celtic singer Loreena McKennitt celebrates the specific traditional springtime ritual of the Gaelic May Day Festival of Beltane, observed in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.

The “May Day” celebration was commonly held on April 30 through May 1, or midsummer between the spring and summer solstice. It was observed as an important fertility ritual for springtime in May when pagans danced around the maypole with ribbons. The ritual died-out by the mid-20th Century, although some of its customs are still observed by some European countries in present day.

The song was featured in the trailer for the 1998 film, “Ever After: A Cinderella Story,” starring Drew Barrymore and Dougray Scott.

The Mummers’ Dance by Loreena McKennitt (Album: The Book of Secrets)

When in the springtime of the year

When the trees are crowned with leaves

When the ash and oak, and the birch and yew

Are dressed in ribbons fair

When owls call the breathless moon

In the blue veil of the night

The shadows of the trees appear

Amidst the lantern light

We’ve been rambling all the night

And some time of this day

Now returning back again

We bring a garland gay

Who will go down to those shady groves

And summon the shadows there

And tie a ribbon on those sheltering arms

In the springtime of the year

The songs of birds seem to fill the wood

That when the fiddler plays

All their voices can be heard

Long past their woodland days

We’ve been rambling all the night

And some time of this day

Now returning back again

We bring a garland gay

And so they linked their hands and danced

Round in circles and in rows

And so the journey of the night descends

When all the shades are gone

A garland gay we bring you here

And at your door we stand

It is a sprout well budded out

The work of Our Lord’s hand

The Mummers’ Dance

We’ve been rambling all the night

And some time of this day

Now returning back again

We bring a garland gay

Mad Men’s Season 3, episode 2, entitled “Love Among the Ruins” featured a maypole scene. Don Draper becomes involved with his daughter (Sally’s) elementary school teacher, Suzanne Farrell, who he first saw leading her students in an outdoor maypole dance.

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