May

After wintertime and the first warm sunrays hitting the ground in April, the month of May is the real start of spring in Upper Austria. At this time of the year, meadows change their color from dull brown to a bright green and the flowers in parks and gardens bloom in their most beautiful colors.

If you are lucky, you can enjoy the first really hot summer days in this month in one of the public open air pools, which usually open on May 1st.

 

MaypoleMaibaumkraxeln at Freinberg

There are a lot of traditions which go along with the month May. The most important tradition, especially in the countryside of Upper Austria, takes place every year on the 1st of May. In almost every village the citizens come together at their main square to set-up the famous maypole (Maibaum). This pole is between 20 and 30 meters high. On the top of a stripped tree trunk they place a little green tree and two or three wreathes which are adorned with colorful ribbons and sometimes with pretzels. The origin of this tradition regarding the maypole is ambiguous. Some historians claim that the maypole is a symbol for life and fertility. In comparison to that other historians assert that the initial purpose of maypoles was to scare off ghosts and witches.

Usually the set-up of the maypole goes along with a big celebration with traditional music, dance, food and of course beer.

During the celebration young brave men take part in a competition to climb to the first wreath and pick a part of the greenery and one of its colorful ribbons. This competition is called “Maibaumkraxeln”. Usually the best climber will be awarded with a prize. In some villages the citizens increase the level of difficulty by covering the pole with soap.

Another tradition concerning the maypole is on the first and the last three nights in May. The village people have to watch out for their maypole because during this period of time it is permitted for people of neighboring villages to steal the pole. “Maypole theft” is the keyword for this, meaning that the maypole should be safeguarded because citizens of neighboring villages try to steel it. According to the tradition the village whose maypole was stolen has to pay a lot in beer to get the pole back.

 

Labor Day

Beside the maypole tradition, the 1st of May is Labor Day, a holiday in Upper Austria, the same as most Western European countries. On this public holiday many houses are adorned with our red-white-red flags. In the urban areas you find parades of the labor force and political speeches especially from the social democratic labor party are held.

 

 Mother's Day

When children learn poems and prepare handicrafts while fathers buy flowers in a shop which is full of men with the same goal, the second Sunday in May is not far away. This special day is called “Mother`s day”, where mothers are honored for their efforts. The history of the mother’s day in Austria is based on the feminist movement. The mother of the former president of Austria Marianne Hainisch initiated the day in the year 1924.