Q: Can you say “May Day” in German?

A: Maibaumaufstellen    (my-bowm-owf-shtell-uhn)

Looks a bit like this:

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Maibaumaufstellen or, the raising of the May Pole, is a traditional event celebrating the arrival of Spring. It involves beer, a very very tall pine tree, and more beer. As with pretty much every traditional event, you dress up. So we did!

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It was a beautiful day, one in the midst of many many rainy ones. Almost every town has this event and we went nearby to this small little town that also happens to have a castle. Behind the castle were the grounds for the may pole festivities

It’s a really tall tree: you can see it from far far away. The majority of the day’s party is spent actually putting it in place. Special men use poles to raise it bit by bit into the hole in the ground and secure it. I’ve been told that after each new adjustment they take a beer break- which is why it takes the better part of the day. I compiled a couple videos I took to give you a better idea of everything that happens while you wait for that.

The last thing that happens once the beer-drinking men have finally raised the tree/pole/thing, is the competition to climb it. Kids all different ages try their luck at climbing it- there’s nothing assisting you -just a very smooth tree trunk and your muscles and grit. The goal is to get to the biggest (also lowest) wreath hung, from which several large pretzels hang. The climber has to reach the top and grab a pretzel off the wreath and toss it down. There were 4 pretzels and they all got taken! If you’re worried about safety, don’t worry they attached harnesses to the kids just in case they couldn’t hold on anymore. Though many of the adults scoffed at the way times were changing… apparently those harnesses are new. “Back in the day” when you climbed you also had to keep your wits about coming down! What makes the tree so hard to climb certainly makes it easy coming down though- it’s like a giant smooth pole to slide down. I caught a video of one of the climbers pulling a pretzel off.

These are the days that really make being in a foreign country fun. Where you get to experience a bit of history and culture and hey- drink beer while you’re at it! We spent a good few hours there drinking beer, eating whole chickens and homemade cakes from the local women. Pretty great way to celebrate Spring 😀
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I leave you with my favorite photo of the day. Germany is famous for it’s beer, and they’re quite proud of it too. What with all the traditions and the beer, it’s really something you’re raised with from day 1. Which is why it isn’t a strange sight, though I was still captivated, to see these skinny little guys running around collecting everyone’s empty beer steins. This little guy has a lot of little ones too- many of them were carrying trays full of the liter size mugs. With those lederhosen and such an important task…. just to cute to miss photographing. Though I suppose I should say so strong and hardworking instead of cute 😉

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