Bavaria: Maypole and German Honesty

About old Bavarian traditions, beer and live tulips...

ANDpicturesque alpine meadows, the most famous castle in the world - Neuschwanstein, baroque churches, Ga-Pa ski competitions, the Oktoberfest festival, the Bayern football club in Munich, Bavarians in short leather pants and ... sausages with cabbage and a lot of beer are the most common associations, which arise for many at the word Bavaria.

But today I want to draw your attention to two interesting moments that I remember when visiting Bavaria. They are certainly not as large-scale as all the associations listed above, but I think it will be interesting. I want to tell about maypole and German honesty.

Maypole and Bavarian beer

No wonder they say that if you want to see the real Germany, you should definitely visit Bavaria. Ancient houses, medieval castles and magnificent Gothic churches - Bavaria carefully preserves its heritage, being one of the oldest regions in Germany. But in addition to the material part of history, interesting folk traditions and rituals are preserved. One of them is the Maypole.

bavarian tree
Bavarian tree in Munich

Maypole (German) Das Maibaum) curious German and Bavarian custom. So the inhabitants of Munich on May 1 are not looking for free clearings in the nearest forest plantations in order to fry meat or sausages on the coals, but they set up a hefty pole and start to have fun right there. This event is fun and with a Bavarian twist. The Bavarian bias means a sea of the finest Bavarian beer, delicious Bavarian sausages and fun dancing.

The pole that the locals set up is called Maypole or simply Maybaum, and as you may have guessed, it was called that for a reason. The Soviet May Day has nothing to do with the Bavarian one, of course. It's completely different. May holidays are clearly opposed to Walpurgis Night, the night of the Sabbath of German witches and other wickedness.

Modern Bavaria
The Maypole is an invariable attribute of Munich in May

Maibaum, which is also sometimes called the May Pillar because of its appearance, symbolizes all living things, the rebirth of vitality and nature. Various sources indicate that the custom to install such a tree has Celtic roots, and it became popular mainly among the Germans.

Thanks to their migration in Europe, it also spread to some Romanesque countries, such as Catalonia or Italy. As additional information, I note that maypoles are still being installed in some cities of Silesia.

traditional tree
White and blue colors make the pole visible from afar

Maibaum is usually made from spruce or, less commonly, birch. The tree is cut down, and the bark and branches are removed from it. Sometimes only the top of the head is not cut off. Further, these pillars are decorated with colorful ribbons (das Bändchen), garlands and flowers.

Then the prepared poles are installed in the central squares of settlements or city districts. In southern Bavaria, Maypoles are additionally decorated (schmücken) with signs and plaques from various local sponsor organizations and city symbols. This custom goes back to the beginning of the 18th century.

One of the customs associated with Maibaum is his kidnapping. Young people from neighboring areas, settlements are trying to steal a tree. The return of the "stolen" tree follows lengthy negotiations and the payment of a "duty" in the form of a considerable amount of beer. By the way, this “penalty” beer is subsequently drunk by representatives of both parties during the solemn handover of the tree.

Traditional tree in Bavaria
Traditional tree in Munich

The installation of the Maypole (Maibaum aufstellen) is a significant event in itself. Depending on the region, the tree is installed either on the night of April 30 or on the morning of May 1. It takes a lot of strong hands to set such a tree upright because tradition requires it to be done without the use of machinery. Only male power and only thick wooden bars and nothing else.

After hard work, it's time to relax and have fun. The installation of the Maypole is closely connected with the May holiday (Das Maifest). The obligatory brass band, traditional German cuisine and plenty of beer are just a few of the entertainment that awaits residents and tourists on Mayfest. At the May Festival, you can join traditional folk dances, choose a May Queen, and even try to climb the Maypole ahead of other competitors.

Video: Maibaum in Germany

Watch a short video about how the maypole is prepared and set up during Mayfest:

German order or flower honesty test

The second point that I want to note is the manifestation of German order and honesty. Quite a lot has been written about German order and honesty. There are good sides to this - accuracy, for example. True, the Germans built concentration camps with the same accuracy and order, but this is another story that has nothing to do with flowers.

After all, now I'm talking about flowers, more specifically about Bavarian tulips. There are traditions in West Germany that amaze and amaze me. For example, flower fields in the city.

Field with tulips
Field of tulips in Munich in the Fürstenrieder Alle

A typical example is a field in the Fürstenrieder Alle area. Just a field in the middle of the houses, on which they planted several beds of flowers. Not only is there a simple field in the middle of the city. The field is not built up and not polluted, and any person can cut these flowers directly from the garden. This is what these tulips look like.

red tulip
Red tulip on self service field
yellow tulip
Quite a decent yellow tulip

Of course, I do not consider myself a noble gardener, but in my opinion, the layman-consumer, the flowers are of quite decent quality. Maybe there are better ones in Holland, but you still have to get there. And here everything is side by side.

But the main thing is not even that. To hell with the field and daffodil tulips. The main thing is that no one guards this field. That is, there is such a cash register, and a person who has chosen and cut flowers for himself, HIMSELF !!!, without the supervision of a Chopov, a policeman, a seller or another specially trained person, will voluntarily put money into the cash register.

self-checkout in the field
Such a “self-service checkout” stands on the edge of a field with tulips

To be honest, I didn't believe it at first. Thought there was a catch somewhere. Well, there is a camera there, or some other piano in the bushes. No, it's all fair. Even the knives are hanging to make it easier for people to cut the flowers. Knives by the way without a chain!

knife for cutting flowers
With this knife, you can cut the flowers you like yourself

In Moscow, near the flower beds, the police are on duty so that they do not plunder, but here they rely on honesty. In our country, honesty has almost become synonymous with stupidity. Maybe we should do such fields, just as a test for decency? Those who did not pass the test of a flower freebie to the police and officials do not take ...

Alexander Zaiko for

One Comment

  1. Somewhere before I read and laughed. How do Bavarians climb a tree? (Maibaumkraxeln): resin, saliva and a 30-meter tree. Everything - for the maypole, in my opinion, in Rottenstuben in the south of Lower Bavaria, the villagers no longer need it. They smear resin on their feet, spit on their hands and up! I represent :))

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