May Day

I didn’t want to cause any alarm with the title of this blog so separated the two words, which in other contexts are joined. I am also sharing the celebration of the 1st of May rather than the experience of an emergency at sea or in the air.

Celebrations on the 1st May have two different origins and the nature of the celebrations often indicates which of the two it relates to. The more recent one dates from 1889 when the Marxist International Social Congress called for it to be an international day of action to introduce the 8-hour working day. It remains a day on which workers call for improvement of workers’ rights with demonstrations in large cities across the world. In many countries, it is a bank holiday. The pragmatic British moved the bank holiday to the first Monday in May, so that everyone had a day off even if 1st May fell on a Sunday the way it did this year.

In the villages in the Saarland in Germany, the older May Day celebrations predominate. They celebrate the end of winter and coming of summer. A key element is the Maibaum, or May Tree, similar to a Maypole in the UK. Raising the Maibaum to its prominent position in the village is usually the introduction to the event, although beer was already being served while this tree was still on the ground.

The voluntary fire brigade, Freiwillige Feuerwehr, is one of the key clubs in many villages and, as can be seen here, is often responsible for the safe raising of the Maibaum. The contraption in which it is based is clearly designed exclusively for this purpose.

The tools used to raise it also seem quite specialised, although may also have a different purpose at others times of the year. The tree is slowly raised and the A-frames alternate their positions towards the base of the tree.

Until it is fully upright and the base gets locked into place.

Although I have often seen Maibäume in villages, I had never watched one being raised. The village continued their celebration with more beer and Würstchen, both red ones and white ones.

I used to have a footer telling you where you could find daily photos. There currently aren’t any daily photos so I can’t point you to them.


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