If you ever visit an English village, make sure to look out for morris dancing. Undoubtedly one of the stranger traditions of English culture, morris dancing is a form of folk dancing that dates back to the 15th century. If you ever get the opportunity, you really have to see it.
Men and women wearing old-fashioned, tattered clothing dance in the streets of towns and villages across the country during the holiday periods. Women wear long, frilly skirts and men wear short trousers with bells attached to them. They dance to traditional folk music which is often played on traditional musical instruments.
Some groups carry heavy black sticks which they bash against each other while they dance. Other groups wave handkerchiefs in the air whilst they perform. The dances are usually performed near a pub so that when it’s over, the dancers and spectators can sing some traditional folk songs over a pint of beer. The festivities will often continue long into the night, by which point most people are too drunk to think about performing again!
Morris dancing is a great English tradition but it’s facing a big crisis. As the years go by, fewer and fewer young people are joining morris dancing groups. The dancers are getting older and older and eventually, if nothing is done to change this trend, the tradition will die out within the next few decades.
If you’ve ever had the fortune to see morris dancing, you may understand why teenagers aren’t rushing to sign up. Putting it bluntly, it’s not exactly the coolest thing for an 18-year-old to be doing! Why dress up in bells and funny costumes when you could be going clubbing? Or playing sport? Or doing anything else!?
However, it would be a great shame to lose such a fun and vibrant part of England’s history and culture. It’s important to look after some traditions and customs especially when it’s something as harmless and happy as morris dancing. So here’s a toast to the next generation of would-be morris dancers! Let’s hope they don’t leave it too late!