Unlike in the U.S. culture celebrating Mayday is pretty popular in Germany.
I know some folks say that it is a Pagan festival but it has transformed like other pagan festivals into a celebration of Spring.
I also love the preserving of traditions, it's like a stairway into our past as to where we come from. However you won't see me lifting any Maibaum (May poles) anytime soon. I haven't heard of a Maifest celebration anywhere close here.
The festivals do sound fun and I look forward to attending one someday. From the Bonfire, and "Tanz in den Mai" (Dance into May) parties, to the raising of the Maibaum, and the Maibaum Tanz.
A sort of German Sangria is popular for Maifest called Maibowle. Thank you to David Eaton for sharing this. It is flavored in an unusual way with a fragrant herb called Waldmeister or Sweet Woodruff.
Another great Spring tradition is Spargel. (Asparagus) There is so much to this topic but big fat white asparagus (Weißspargel) should be available through June, so we have a lot of time to enjoy them.
Some Maifest Celebrations
Maifest is a traditional celebration of Spring in Germany, usually includes the rising of the Maibaum
Maypole, The Maibaumtanz, Maypole dance, and drinking of certain beverages.
In some celebrations a Maifest queen is selected. In some areas if you don't secure your
belongings in your yard on April 30, they may find their way up a tree or on the roof early as a joke.
Also the night before there are often Dance parties held private or in clubs called "Tanz in den Mai" (Dance into May), and Bonfires.
Check out some different Maifest celebrations in your area
To find one near you just type Maifest and your state or province into the search engine box.
The Maibaum In Germany and Austria is the maypole and a tradition going back to the 16th century. But even before that, traditions older than that went on to Pagan times.
It is a decorated tree or tree trunk that is usually erected either on 1 May – in Baden and Swabia - or on the evening before, for example, in East Frisia. In most areas, especially in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Austria, it is usual to have a ceremony to erect the maypole on the village green. The custom of combining it with a village or town fete, that usually takes place on 30 April, 1 May or at Pentecost (Whitsun), is widespread. This tradition is especially strong in the villages of the Bavarian Alps where the raising of the traditional maypole on 1 May in the village square is a cause for much celebration. The pole is usually painted in the Bavarian colours of white and blue and decorated with emblems depicting local crafts and industry.
There's lots of speculation as to why a big pole to celebrate May? Some say it symbolizes the axis of the earth or a pagan fertility symbol but it could be another tree symbol which are very important for German tradition. you have a Tannenbaum (Christmas Tree) and a Maibaum ... Maytree or Maypole. I am going to buy that explanation :-).
The erecting of the Maypole is sometimes a celebration in itself. While men use special poles to help erect the Maibaum, others drink beer and eat sausages while a band plays. It is good old fashioned German fun.
Watch them lift up the Maibaum
The Maypole dance is a tradition with an origin that is uncertain, even though some say that it is an old German fertility dance.
The dance has ribbons attached to the Maypole that get plaited or braided onto it through the dance. It is avery pretty.
Watch them do the Maibaum-Tanz, Maypole Dance
Maibaum-Tanz zum 1. Mai auf dem Altmarkt
Some Small Maibaüme
to show you love someone
On the night of the last day of April, many young men erect small decorated "Maibäume" in front of the houses of their sweethearts. Some attach a red heart with the name of the girl written on it to the tree.
Dance into May
Maifeuer is a Bonfire event whose tradition goes way back to a time
when such thing were done as a ritual to ward of evil spirits.
The bonfire is often linked to Walpurgisnacht.
Though this was
a pagan ritual like many they made it into a Christian one and named it
after Saint Walpurga
May wine that is flavored with
May wine is served in the spring, traditionally on the May Day holiday. The base is made by taking sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum, sometimes called Asperula odorata, known in Germany as Waldmeister), a fragrant creeping herb that grows in the forests of Northern Europe, and steeping it in a white German wine. Since woodruff is slightly poisonous, some common sense should be applied in its use; 3 grammes of woodruff per liter of may wine is completely safe. It is the specialty of the town of Arlon, in the south of Belgium.
Ingredients Maibowle or May Wine
500 ml white wine, dry (Moselle or Rhine)
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 package vanilla sugar
250 ml dry Sekt
5 stems fresh Waldmeister (not blooming) or 1/2 cup dried or Waldmeister syrup – find Waldmeister Syrup here
1 stem mint
1 stem lemon mint
2 slices lemon
Instructions Maibowle or May wine
- dissolve brown sugar and vanilla sugar in wine.
- let fresh Waldmeister wilt and hang it upside down together with mint for 30 min, maximum 45 minutes in the wine. The cutting edges of the plants should not touch the wine.
- freeze lemon slices, then place wine in the fridge and chill it.
- before serving add Sekt.
- you can add small ice cubes if the Waldmeister fragrance should be too strong.
- you also can add strawberries that are cut in halves.
Dagmar Barnekow from Germany sent this wonderful picture of their Traditional May 1st dinner with
(White Asparagus) Dagmar said....Had our traditional "1st May dinner" this evening
~ asparagus as WE like it: with potatoes in the skin,
Parma ham, Parmesan cheese and salted butter with a good white wine,
and strawberries with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Yummmmmmmmmy!
This is a follow up to "Recipes from a German Grandma' a full biography of Emma Block from growing up in Germany to coming over here as a young adult and living as a German-American in the early and mid 1900's.
Savoy cabbage is believed to have originated from England and Holland. Savoy cabbage was introduced into Germany in the 18th century. It was originally known as "Savoyer Kohl" because it came to Germany from the Savoy ruled region of north-western Italy. The name later changed to "Wirsing," which most likely stemmed from the word "verza," the italian name for savoy cabbage.
Using Fresh Vanilla in Baking
I used a lot of vanilla beans (pods) in the newsletter recipes this week. If you have never
cooked with them maybe now is a good time to give them a try. It is fun to experience
just the smell of real vanilla beans. There are reasons why they are so potent and relatively expensive.
If you buy single ones in the store they are a ridiculous stupid price and usually pretty dry.
There are 3 different products that are all wonderful to use, that you will get a good feel for
vanilla. One is of course the fresh vanilla bean. I say fresh but it is really dried like a raisin is dried,
and so it last indefinitely as long as you keep the air off of it and in the a cool place away from the sunlight.
If you have never made your own vanilla extract, and you like to DIY then this is a must. It is never fail, and takes just a few minutes to set up. Home brewed vanilla extract makes a wonderful gift as well.
For the first time EVER we have authentic German Bratwurst actually made in Nürnberg and imported fresh from Germany. Produced under the highest quality standards and USDA approved. These sausages are made from a traditional 1313 recipe (which would make it a 698 year old recipe). It doesn't get any better than this. It's so delicious you won't need to add mustard. This Nürnberger Bratwurst is fully cooked just heat and serve. Can be pan fried or grilled. Each package contains eight (8) small Bratwurst similar in size to American breakfast sausages. Each sausage measures approx. 3.5" in length.
Storage: Refrigeration recommended but can be frozen too.
How was the size of the Nuremberg Sausage created?
According to legend, Hans IV. Stromer (1517-1592), a judge in the medieval times, was imprisoned for life for revealing an important political secret. In those days, life-term in prison meant that once the dungeon doors were shut, you never again left your cell. Prisoners depended on family members for their food. Since he was a high ranking prisoner, Stromer was granted one reasonable wish. That wish was to be allowed 2 Bratwursts daily until the end of his days. So, his family made a Bratwurst so small that it could be passed through the keyhole of the prison door. In deference to the legend, all "Nürnberger Bratwurst" now made in Germany are required, by German law, to include certain ingredients in specific proportions. The law specifies that the sausages must be a certain length and diameter, and must be produced within the city limits of Nürnberg.