Donnerstag, 7. Mai 2015

Strange German Holidays #5 - 1st of May

So again a little late, and I should probably do my WIPocalypse post first, but the sign in page with the monthly question hasn't been published yet, so I'm using the opportunity to get a non stitching related post out first :D

So Mai 1st is a national holiday in Germany as well as in many other countries world wide - and a strange one too! Why strange? Because May 1st is the International Day of work - and noone is working! I did a bit of reading on the history of the day, and apprently the north-american worker movement called in a general strike on May 1st in order to establish 8 hour workdays. Cue riots, violence, dead people and an international day to remember them. Very interesting stuff, but: Day of Work might be why we have that day off of work, but what we actually celebrate in Germany is the beginning of May itself.

At least in rural regions, celebrations start on the evening of April 30th. April 30th is traditionally known as 'Walpurgisnacht', the night where witches get on their brooms and fly to the 'Blocksberg' or 'Brocken', and dance around the fire (most visually depicted in Goethe's 'Faust'). Normal people also get to dance, there are usually lots of parties and festivities so people can 'dance into may'. Then their is also the raising of the 'Maibaum', which is celebrated on the evening of April 30th in some areas and on May 1st in others. The may tree or maypole is usually a bare tree trunk of a fir tree or spruce, about 10-20m in height, and 'crowned' by a wreath of green leaves, decorated with ribbons. It's placed in the village our town square by the local associations and their usually is a small fair to acompany the raising.


On the morning of May 1st, local brass bands will march through the streets and play music (again something only still done in rural areas), stopping here and there for drinks and snacks where they are offered. Felix does play in such a band and I'm always amazed how much enthusiasm they put into it, I certainly would not be thrilled to meet up before 7am on a holiday!

Another practice I just read about but have never seen practiced myself is that in the night between April 30th and May 1st, young men will place small, decorated may poles at the houses of their wifes/girlfriends/crushes. I think it's a sweet practice, but living with a muscian who gets up at 6am on May 1st anyways I don't think I'll ever get one myself :D

Kommentare:

  1. There is no real celebration here, though my Dad talks about having a maypole when he was in school, Thank you for all the wonderful information,.

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    1. It's interesting how many of the traditions I'm talking about have a place somewhere else as well!

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  2. There is no real celebration here, though my Dad talks about having a maypole when he was in school, Thank you for all the wonderful information,.

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  3. We always had a maypole at school when we were young. The first Monday in May became a Bank Holiday in 1978 by the Labour Party as a Workers Holiday. The right wing have wanted to get rid of it ever since but luckily haven't succeeded!

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