The Morris is a living tradition of ritual dance and music, whose origins are shrouded in mystery, not to mention antiquity. The dance comes from England where it has been danced for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years. John of Gaunt is said by some to have brought the dance back from Saracen Spain where he had been crusading. Others believe its origins are pre-Christian, possibly Druidic, perhaps even pagan. Similar dances are found throughout Europe and the Near East. Believe what you will. Many theories exist and, for now, no one can prove you wrong.
Morris dancing was almost lost in England during the nineteenth century. The tradition nearly died along with many other old, community based customs during the Industrial Revolution. The most recent revival began in England in the early twentieth century with the work of collectors like Cecil Sharp. There are hundreds of Morris teams in England now and at least 100 in the U.S. and Canada as well as other parts of the world.