• Spring Festivals and Maypoles

    Around the northern hemisphere, the sap has been rising, plants are green again, and spring is well and truly here. 

    Spring is traditionally a time to celebrate fertility and fecundity, and different cultures have their own ways of doing this. 

    The Japanese have matsuri (festivals) to celebrate their hopes for an abundant harvests and good fortune for future generations. The best known is the centuries old Hōnen Matsuri (Prosperous Year Festival) in Komaki, Aichi Prefecture, where each year a newly carved 600 pound 2.5m long Cyprus wood penis is paraded through the streets as part of the festivities. (One wonders what happens to the previous years’ penises.) Surprisingly, it is not the human penis that is being venerated, but the fertility of the earth under the participants’ feet.

    The Hōnen Matsuri should not be confused with the Kanamara Matsuri (Festival of the Steel Phallus), where residents of Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan also parade penises through their streets. This festival has less to do with soil fertility than with commercialism. It dates back only to the 1960s, though the local Shinto shrine has been visited since the 1600s as a place to pray for protection against sexually transmitted diseases.

    In many European countries, communities often celebrate spring by holding festivals at the end of April (Walpurgis Night and Baltane) and on the first day of May (May Day). Traditionally, May Day celebrations include dancing, especially dancing around a maypole. Such dances, which involve the dancers weaving a colourful cover to the maypole with ribbons tied to the top of the pole, are termed dressing the maypole. There are many ways of dressing a maypole depending upon the steps and turns of the dancers.

    Some people have seen maypoles as having phallic symbolism, though not all have. English author John Cleveland is one who certainly did. He wrote in 1748 in Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure:

    “... and now, disengag'd from the shirt, I saw, with wonder and surprise, what? not the play-thing of a boy, not the weapon of a man, but a maypole of so enormous a standard, that had proportions been observ'd, it must have belong'd to a young giant.”

    Whether you are have the proportions of a young giant or not, if you feel like dressing your own maypole this spring, then at Velv’Or we would recommend you to use one of our colourful JNajas. We’ll have a size that fits you.

    And if you own a JNaja, then why not see what also suits your style at our online store.

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