The festivity of the Maya comes from pagan rites and dates back, at least, to the Middle Ages, where the first written testimonies appear although it is believed that Its origin is very previous. In La Maya, symbolisms such as fertility or prosperity of the agricultural and pastoral economy are combined, and it is a greeting to Spring.
In Greek mythology, Maia (pronounced May-ah) is one of the Pleiades and the mother of Hermes.
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Maia embodied the concept of growth, as her name was thought to be related to the comparative adjective maius, maior "larger, greater". Originally, she may have been a homonym independent of the Greek Maia, whose myths she absorbed through the Hellenization of Latin literature and culture. In an archaic Roman prayer, Maia appears as an attribute of Vulcan, in an invocational list of male deities paired with female abstractions representing some aspect of their functionality. She was explicitly identified with Earth (Terra, the Roman counterpart of Gaia) and the Good Goddess (Bona Dea).The month of May (Latin Maius) was supposedly named for Maia.
In the village of Colmenar Viejo, 35 km from Madrid, Spain, every May the 2nd a girl between 7 and 11years is chosen as 'Maya' among the volunteers of the village and should sit still, serious, and quiet for a couple of hours on an altar placed on the street and decorated with local flowers and plants.While La Maya is hieratically sitting on her chair a local band plays music and other young girls dressed in white offer sweets bakery to the visitors in a festive atmosphere, afterwards they walk to the church with their family where they attend a ceremony (for some years the local priest didn’t allowed the Mayas to end the celebration at the church, but now they are allowed back).
Not more than four, or five girls are chosen as a Maya each year.
Preparations begin weeks before May 2. After the registration in the City Council by each Maya, they proceed to prepare the costumes, which are composed of: petticoats, white shirt and Manila shawl tied to the back. In addition, the girls decorate their hair with a multitude of beads and a wreath of flowers sometimes made by that the girl herself.
On the eve and in the early hours of the morning of May 2, the wild flowers that adorn the altar that Maya will occupy are collected by friends and relatives of each Maya.They cover the altar with the fresh flowers and wild plants and on the ground a flowery carpet is displayed on which thymes "of the Lord" and rosemary, margarita, lavender, poppies & genista). Pots and vases with daisies and poppies are placed on the altar. While the Maya remains seated in the Altar, still, without smiling or speaking, the companions, a group with live music, brushes and cymbals, look for the walkers to brush their sleeves and tell them "For the Maya, which is beautiful and elegant”. The money raised, is distributed at the end of the party, to compensate for the costumes of costumes and beads.
The ‘maya’ is dressed in a lack and decorated white shirt, Manila shawl tied to the back, necklaces and small jewels, and a wreath of flowers in her hair. The difficulty for the girl is that she remains sitting for two hours, without moving, very serious and without speaking, while the curious pass around her.
Around them, the companions, who are dressed in a similar way, although with the Manila shawl placed "right", invite the curious to make donations with a brush and the following phrase: "for the Maya, who is beautiful and galana ”.
Traditionally it is believed that the "maya" symbolically welcomes the resurgence of Nature after the lethargy of winter, although it is also said that it has a symbolism related to the passage of the girl to woman.