A troupe of England's venerable morris dancers recently danced a jig to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a London overpass that was originally dedicated by morris dancers.
• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.
It’s as English as afternoon tea, fish and chips, Shakespeare, and cricket.
Morris dancing – quirky and slightly more eccentric – although less well known, is deeply rooted in the country’s culture.
Stumble across a summer fete in the English shires and there’s a good chance you’ll see a troupe of dancers clad in white cotton, bells, and hats and carrying handkerchiefs or sticks that they wave to the beat of folk music, usually provided by a melodeon, a type of accordion.
There are an estimated 14,000 morris dancers across Britain, but the origins of morris dancing are clouded in history. Some think it originated from the Moors of Spain while others believe it dates from pre-Christian religious rites.
Wherever and whenever it started, morris dancing seems to have become accepted entertainment by the 1600s and has enjoyed various revivals since then.
Summer is usually peak season, although morris dancers are not averse to a little cold weather, as one troupe recently displayed in early January on a highway overpass in west London.