Tuesday saw us attending our first Maibaum Fest (Maypole Festival). Nearly every town and village in Bavaria has a Maibaum, a vast usually stripey pole (in the Bavarian colours of course!) with its Pagan origins harking back to ancient times. They are quite hard to miss! They also serve as a kind of Bavarian Yellow Pages, with small emblems attached advertising the local businesses and services in the area. I have found myself studying them when I have needed various things (like a garage for example), they are probably more reliable and informative than my ridiculously stupid GPS in any event. The Small People also love them, and when visiting a new place, can be kept quiet for a good ten minutes while they try to guess what the signs are for!
Then, when it’s time to retire the old Maibaum (they can stand for up to five years), it’s time to put a new one up, and have a great big party to celebrate! Occasionally new poles that are waiting to be put up are kidnapped by surrounding towns or villages, and held to ransom in return for beer and food!
It is still possible to find Maibaum Fests where the pole is pushed up into position by very strong men wielding other very large poles, but this is obviously strenuous on a very hot day, and can eat into valuable beer drinking time. So on this occasion they cheated slightly, and used a crane. I can’t say I blame them, and it was no less ceremonious because of this…
Once the new pole is up, it’s time for the May Dance. Not dissimilar to the Maypole Dances we have in the UK, however increasingly rare these might be. I have my lovely friend Gill to thank for this last photograph as we didn’t get to see this part. There are only so many hours of talking to adults, eating pretzels and watching poles being put up that The Small people can cope with understandably! I on the other hand could have quite happily spent the rest of the afternoon there – you could see that the party was only just beginning. Nevertheless it was great to see, and there’s always next year…!