On the first of may there is a beautiful festival in Austria, called the Maifest or May Day.
The fest is a centuries old tradition: a pine tree is erected in the center of the village or the main square – the Maypole (specially prepared and all branches cut except on the top) decorated with ribbons and branches weaved in a circle. I have also seen a more intricate version of those maypoles in Bavaria, decorated with carved figures.
“Primarily found within the nations of Germanic Europe and the neighboring areas which they have influenced, its origins remain unknown, although it has been speculated that it originally had some importance in the Germanic paganism of Iron Age and early Medieval cultures, and that the tradition survived Christianisation, albeit losing any original meaning that it had. It has been a recorded practice in many parts of Europe throughout the Medieval and Early Modern periods, although became less popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, the tradition is still observed in some parts of Europe and among European communities in North America.” -source: Wikipedia
The beginning of the fest is announced by the village orchestra, arriving all dressed up in their parade costumes at 11 o’clock.
Followed by the guests of the fest: a french folklore and dance group on stilts ( Groupe folklorique du Lous Crabots de Semisens from Saint Vincent de Tyrosse)http://www.louscrabots.com/histoire.php. There is a different guest group every year, these were the guests in 2012.
The procession is finished by the guard company – Kaspar Sautner Schutzkompanie.
Everyone is getting ordered in the square of the parking lot next to the municipality. Unfortunately the place is narrow and long, which forces them to arrange the rows sideways.
The guards company at the front make a shooting demonstration with their guns.
And let the festivities begin!Two bands of musicians makes sure everybody is in good mood.
The big climbing of the may tree begins. Most places have only one may tree – they have two there. One big and one smaller , for the children to climb. The goal is to ring the bell that is attached below the first circle with ribbons. And everybody is taking turns ,barefoot to try their skills.
What really brought us here are the great choice of activities for kids.There was a pet zoo and ponies to ride …
What counts in the end is that such events keep traditions alive and are a wonderful opportunity for young and old to enjoy time together.