Thursday, May 1, 2008

Happy May Day

May first is Labor day in Europe and so a holiday. But May holidays go back to ancient peoples and the residue of such rites are still seen today. In Bonn there are no Walpurgis fires as you find in the north of Germany but there are Maibäume. In the night before the 1st of May, boys bring birch trees to girls houses and decorate them with streamers. They stay up all month while the girls "guess" who brought them the tree. Then on the 31st the boys come back to take the tree away and reveal themselves to the girls.

We live in a city so the trees are tied to any upright fixture in front of the house. Since the houses have more than one family and so possibly more than one girl, the name of the beloved must be inscribed in some way on the tree.

This is a leap year, however, so it was the girls turn to leave trees for the boys. Two of the trees we saw were dedicated to Fred or Freddy. I had no idea this was such a common boys name in Germany.

3 comments:

Jenny M said...

That's an adorable tradition! I would really like to see some of the ones done on the non-leap year (I'm curious as to if the boys make them as colorful).

Jenny M said...

I just looked at the podcasts that you listen to. Have you checked out Sticks and Strings? (Or is it Sticks N Strings?). It's my favorite knitting podcast; I'm not sure why.

I keep also meaning to ask if you're on Ravelry. Are you on Ravelry?

Kristine said...

lol- I used to belong to a German ski club in Chicago. The two most common names for men were Hans and Frederick.