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Change, Continuity and Contradictions in May Day Celebrations in Northamptonshire

Smith, Kate


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Dr Kate Smith
Knowledge Exchange Fellow In Flood and Society


Most teachers and students of folklore and folkloristics will have encountered the widespread and persistent belief that “folklore,” including traditional beliefs and behaviours, customs and rituals, is dying. Indeed, this is a position that has characterised a great deal of folklore scholarship from the discipline's earliest days. Doubting the truth of the assumption that folklore is, almost by definition, a moribund (and slightly embarrassing) habit, part of my post-graduate research developed into an investigation of whether such assumptions (with relation to perceptions of the supposed demise of May Day) were sustained by evidence resulting from scholarly fieldwork.

This task was made relatively straightforward by the existence of a body of data relating to the celebration of May Day in the Northamptonshire's primary schools collected and analysed by Dennis G. Teall in the 1950s; Teall himself expressed a certain amount of pessimism about the future of May Day and its likely continuation to the end of the twentieth century:


Smith, K. (2008). Change, Continuity and Contradictions in May Day Celebrations in Northamptonshire. Folklore, 119(2), 142-159.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Jun 24, 2008
Publication Date 2008-08
Deposit Date May 6, 2021
Journal Folklore
Print ISSN 0015-587X
Electronic ISSN 1469-8315
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 119
Issue 2
Pages 142-159
Keywords Cultural Studies; History; Anthropology
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