Updates and Thoughts - 5/5/02

Today was May Day; the last Bryn Mawr tradition of the year, and the final tradition that I and the other seniors participate in. This year was actually Grand May Day; every four years, the school spends twice as much on the tradition, and it luckily enough coincided with my senior year.

The day starts at 7:30 or 8, when the students put on their white dresses (well, nobody has to wear a white dress, but most people do) and go to one of the dining halls (or the Campus Center in the case of the seniors) for a breakfast of strawberries and cream. It was a tiny bit cool in the morning, especially given the fact that I was in a short-sleeved dress, but the day ended up being really nice and warm.

There's a short break before the procession to Merion Green, where the Maypoles are. At around 9:30, the procession begins, led by a bagpipe player and followed by select faculty members, Traditions Mistresses, Songs Mistresses, May Queens, Maypole dancers (who got the position by signing up at 8:30 on Wednesday morning), and President Nancy Vickers. Rumor had it that President Vickers rode in on an elephant for Grand May Day, but, alas, this was proven to not be the case. However, the Traditions Mistresses did come in on horse drawn carriages.

Once everyone has made it to the green, President Vickers exhorted the dancers to begin, and the dancers for each class made their way around the maypole as an acapella group sang. As is the case every year, the seniors finished first; the pole is a bit shorter than the rest.

After the maypole dancing, President Vickers gave a speech which dealt with this year's theme, the garden. It was basically a flower-pun laden story about four Mawrters. The May Queens also gave a speech. Finally, there was a senior hoops race down Senior Row.

There was another break before the May Hole, which is sort of a 'feminist' Maypole. Everyone (anyone can join in if they want) gathers in a circle and clasps their arms, which are subsequently bound with toilet paper representing the patriarchy. The May Hole Mistress releases the first person, and everyone who is releast runs around trying to release other people (because we have to help each other to overcome the patriarchy). Once enough people are freed, everyone runs to the parachute in the center and shakes it. There's a lot of dancing and such as well.

After that, things are a bit less structured for the most part; while there are performances and activities, they're not as integral to the whole May Day experience. Like many other people, I camped out on Merion Green and picnicked. I was able to do some school reading (yes, I am a geek) as well as some free reading while I was lying out in the sun (and getting sunburned); in addition, having a textbook to look at was a good way to make the lines for funnel cake and ice cream less dull. Later in the afternoon, Edwin McCain performed on the green. I have heard a couple of his songs before, and it was fun to hear live music.

The biggest May Day expense was a hot air balloon that gave rides from three until six. I got to the line at about three, but, of course, a ton of people had gotten in front of me already and it would take almost the entire time for me to ride on it. Since the balloon didn't go very high anyway, I figured that it wasn't worth it and left. I think that it was a good decision; I had more fun relaxing, playing volleyball (or something resembling it), trying to fly the pocket kite I got in a care package, and eating then I would have if I waited three hours for a two minute ride.

After a nap, I got my lantern headed over to the Senior steps at Taylor Hall for the final tradition, Step Sing. Appropriately enough, I ended up hanging around with my freshman year roommate, Amy, as well as two other girls from my Customs Group; it sort of helped the tradition work as a bookend. The (long) event consisted of students singing many traditional songs and song parodies. This was often punctuated by the Anassa, a Bryn Mawr cheer:
Anassa Kata, Kalo Kale/Ia Ia Ia Nike/Bryn Mawr, Bryn Mawr, Bryn Mawr!
For the non-Greek Speakers: Queen, Descend, I Invoke You, Fair One/Hail, Hail, Hail, Victory!/Bryn Mawr, Bryn Mawr, Bryn Mawr!

A senior would begin the cheer, and then everyone would join in. After the cheer, the original senior (or group) would shout out what they were cheering amid applause and shouting. The event was also punctuated by streaking (I think the grand total came to three times), but that is neither here nor there.

After the final song (Bread and Roses), the frosh, sophmores, and juniors lined up on either side of the walkway and sang a goodnight song as the seniors walked past; it was the same song that everyone sang to wish the frosh goodnight on Parade Night (the first day of classes), so it's really a sentimental moment. After walking through, almost all of the seniors were quite tearful. While I was more or less composed, it's sad to think that I won't be participating in a school-wide event like this ever again.

Goodnight, Goodnight.
Time Sends A Warning Call,
Sweet Dreams Descend On All.
Time, Time Sends A Warning Call...

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