Maifest – Local festivals and traditions

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

Maifest , Maibaum , Ampass
Maifest , Maibaum , Ampass

The beginning of the fest is announced by the village orchestra, arriving all dressed up in their parade costumes at 11 o’clock.

Musikkapelle Ampass
Musikkapelle Ampass

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.

 Groupe folklorique du Lous Crabots de Semisens from Saint Vincent de Tyrosse
Groupe folklorique du Lous Crabots de Semisens from Saint Vincent de Tyrosse

The procession is finished by the guard company – Kaspar Sautner Schutzkompanie.

Kaspar Sautner Schutzkompanie
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.

Ampass Mai fest

The guards company at the front make a shooting demonstration with their guns.

The guard company

And let the festivities begin!Two bands of musicians makes sure everybody is in good mood.

IMG_3789

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.

climbing the mai tree
climbing the mai tree

What really brought us here are the great choice of activities for kids.There was a pet zoo and ponies to ride …

pet zoo and ponies
pet zoo and ponies
two giant inflatable toys
two giant inflatable toys
and a whole playground to choose from
and a whole playground to choose from

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.

IMG_8153

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2 thoughts on “Maifest – Local festivals and traditions

    1. It’s not easy to walk with them at all. I tried smaller ones last year and I kept on falling. It’s of course a matter of practice , but it looks (like most things) easier than it is !!!

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