May 1st is celebrated as Workers' Solidarity Day worldwide. However, even before the emergence of trade and labor unions on April 30th, ancient Europe had the tradition of holding triple processions of mummers who, with the sound of pipes, bells, and rattles, chased away evil spirits on Walpurgis or Philippi Night. Additionally, some folks raised the trunk of a century-old tree as a symbol of fertility and the beginning of the warm period of the year. The custom of putting up a maypole is prevalent in various European countries such as the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Austria and Germany.

salzburg toptours maypole freilicht 1

The tradition of decorating a tree trunk varies from country to country and region to region. Generally, the trunk is taken from a spruce tree, and the bark is removed, leaving only the green crown. On the eve of the festival, the 2-3 tonne trunk is taken to the center of the village by a tractor. The green crown is then decorated with a wreath made of pine needles, colorful summer flowers, and freshly baked pretzels. Following this, the assembly begins, which takes about 2-3 hours, depending on the size of the tree and the number of participants.

In certain regions of Austria, only unmarried men engage in a tradition to showcase their strength to girls. Another tradition involves stealing a maypole to demand a ransom in exchange for sweets and drinks. However, cutting down or filing a heavy tree trunk is now prohibited by the police and carries the risk of heavy fines. During the raising of the maypole, visitors enjoy folk music, drink beer and lemonade, and eat simple but filling food such as sausages, grilled chicken, and tortillas with sauerkraut.

The festivities usually start at noon, and the various contests around the tree begin in the late afternoon once the maypole is standing firmly in place. Finally, the young people climb up the smooth trunk of the maypole to retrieve the gifts placed on top, which typically include bread or sausages.

Raising the Maypole is a longstanding tradition in Salzburg that I would love to share with you during my excursions in the first week of May. 

The 1st of May is a public holiday in Austria.

salzburg toptours maypole st wolfgang in the lake district

salzburg toptours maypole sausages

salzburg toptours maypole freilicht

maypole traditional climbing

Please provide: 1. DATE. 2. Number of people. 3. Tour name/itinerary. 4. Hotel/Starting/ending location. 5. Desired tour duration. 6. Phone number with WhatsApp.

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