Fabulous May

Maypole at the Main Square in Linz, Upper Austria

Maypole at the Main Square in Linz, Upper Austria

In many regions of Central Europe, May is the month with its own decoration – the maypole, also called the Maibaum. In Upper Austria, it consists of a large tree trunk (usually a birch or fir tree) without bark but still the green tree top; several wreaths with colorful ribbons decorate the top. The Maibaum is usually erected in the main square of the village/town and stays up for the whole month. Plenty of sites and sources list 1466 as the year in which the tradition is first mentioned in writing. In Upper Austria and many other places, the maypole may be stolen by residents from neighboring villages and thus must be guarded for the first three days of the month. If the Maibaum is stolen even with all these precautions, it can be “bought” back from the thieves – usually with the currency of beer.

The Maypole Is Set Up in Linz, Upper Austria (Image by Stadt Linz via Facebook: Linz Veraendert)

Traditions connected with the Maibaum include maypole dances/ribbon dances and climbing the maypole. Climbers usually prep their bare feet with tar to stick to the trunk more easily. No other help is allowed to reach the top of the 10-15 meter high and slick tree trunk; at the top awaits a pair bratwurst for the successful climber.

Maypole Climbing in Bad Hofgastein, Austria (photo from meinbezirk.at)

May also has its own beer – the so-called Maibock, a stronger beer with 6-7% alcohol but always a golden color and rather hoppy. With its many traditions, its own beer,  plenty of official federal holidays in Austria (four working days off in May 2015) and the weather finally warming up, May is truly a fabulous month in Austria.

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2 thoughts on “Fabulous May

  1. And thus Austria goes onto my list of countries to visit. All I ever read/heard about it is Christmas in Vienna, but this sounds like much more fun!

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