Being crowned May Queen of the May Day parade is something any little girl would love, but the tradition, rooted in British folklore, wasn’t always sparkly tiaras and bouquets of flowers. In mythology, the May Queen is queen of the fairies; beautiful and ethereal, she represents purity, nature, and spring as a whole. On May Day, the girl crowned May Queen and asked to lead the subsequent celebratory parade is meant to pay homage to her, which is why it’s generally a beautiful young girl dressed in white.

Back in the day, however, the spot wasn’t always so coveted. After leading the parade, the young girl crowned May Queen would be put to death in a sort of sacrificial ritual for what’s thought to have been anti-pagan propaganda. Not exactly the spot that you want your kids wishing they could hold.