Monday, May 2, 2011

May Morning

This past Sunday, Leah and I woke up early (4:30 AM) to observe a 500-year-old Oxford tradition. "May Morning" is celebrated here every year at dawn on May Day (May 1st). The tradition begins at 6:00 AM with the Magdalen College Choir singing the hymn, Hymnus Eucharisticus, from the top of Magdalen Tower.

If you look really closely, you can see the choir on top of the tower

Most students start the festivities the night before as the pubs in Oxford stay open all night before May Morning. As 6:00 approached, a large crowd began to gather under the tower along the High Street and on Magdalen Bridge. Since we had actually gone to bed the night before, we were a bit more sober than those surrounding us.

The crowd on Magdalen Bridge.  A recent "tradition" has been for students to jump from the bridge into the very shallow river below.  To prevent this, the bridge is lined with security guards (the ones in the bright yellow coats).

After the concert (which lasted about 10 minutes), there was all sorts of festivities going on in the City Center such as Morris dancing (traditional English folk dancing) and several forms of music.

Folk dancing under Hertford Bridge (aka Oxford's "Bridge of Sighs")

The lady in the sheep mask was dancing around and handing out golden thread.  A little too much weirdness for me that early in morning.

More dancing on High Street

After waking around for a while, we grabbed breakfast with our Australian friend, Jono, and then...went back to BED!

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