Palo de Mayo – The Spring Festival of Nicaragua

Andrea Santiago, Student Journalist

Palo de Mayo, or Maypole, is a celebration that welcomes rain, reproduction, and new life.  The main feature is a tall wooden pole, decorated with long colored ribbons that are attached and suspended from the top. maxresdefault

The celebration and dance of the Palo de Mayo in the South Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua, specifically in the city of Bluefields, has its origin from the time of the English colonization and the arrival of Black slaves to the Caribbean Coast.

Regarding the wardrobe, the fashionable fabrics that attract attention are the flowers and prints. The costumes are a fundamental part of the dances of the Palo de Mayo where yellow, green and orange colors predominate, symbolizing new life, virility, and hope. The Palo de Mayo dance is performed on May 1 and its meaning is related to the arrival of the harvest production season, fertility, and the goddess of African origin called Mayaya. It is possible to find this dance in other countries as well. It is a type of Afro-Caribbean dance with sensual movements that is part of the culture of several communities of the Autonomous Regions of the Caribbean Coast (RACCN and RACCS) of Nicaragua; as well as in Belize, the Bay Islands in Honduras, Puerto Limón in Costa Rica, Bocas del Toro in Panama, and Puerto Rico Sabrosa.Pobladores de Bluefields celebran Palo de Mayo - LVDS

In Nicaragua, “Mayo Ya” is the name given to the festival that is celebrated during the month of May on the Nicaraguan South Caribbean coast, while in the North Caribbean it is known as May Pole on the same month of May. Due to the importance of this celebration and because it is the month in which the Creole People are most identified, in Puerto Cabezas, the departmental head of RAAN, it has been designated as the month of African Heritage. Much of the traditional Afro-Caribbean music of the Palo de Mayo that originated in the town of Bluefields in the 18th century. El Festival del Palo de Mayo en Nicaragua

It is said that the Palo de Mayo was baptized with that name because it was cut in that month, also because its structure is that of a long trunk that does not carry branches or leaves below, suitable for the dances around it. As a ritual, it is joyful with music and dance, making a circle whose central axis is the tree, whose fruits and colorful ribbons represent the feminine, and the trunk is a clear allusion to masculinity. We could also appreciate that the Palo de Mayo is a dance that is celebrated on the coasts of the Caribbean where everyone dances with short skirts. As a festival it is colorful with flowers, fruits, sweets, movements of men and women, boys and girls, those who are and those who are going to be born. In short, people of all ages participate in a collective and meaningful dance.