German Language Blog

Der Maibaum (maypole) Posted by on May 19, 2012 in Culture, Traditions

Today I want to introduce a German tradition to you, that takes place in May. I´m talking about the so called Maibaum (maypole).

A Maibaum is a decorated tree or at least stock of tree that is usually aufgerichtet (erected) on May the 1st. In some regions it is already put up on the eve of May the 1st. Mostly it is combined with a traditional celebration on the Dorfplatz (village square). First of all in Baden-Württemberg, Bayern (Bavaria) and Österreich (Austria).
The tradition is widespread in many regions in Central and Northern Europe. But in Skandinavien (Scandinavia) it normally takes place in Mittsommer (midsummer). In Switzerland they don´t have the tradition of the Maibaum.


The tree

Maypoles are normally big decorated trees that are put up on a central place in a village or town at a feastful Veranstaltung (event). Depending on the region, or even the village, the decoration of the tree could be totally different.
Either a new tree is chopped down every year, or the same trunk is being used for a couple of years and only the “Krone” (crown) gets a new decoration. In Ostfriesland for example, the trunk is stored under water and fetched again for May.
Normally the people peel the trunks and decorate them with colorful Girlanden (festoons), fir sprigs or crepe paper.
On the upper end, the tree is normally crowned with a Kranz (collar) and the green tree top. The trees have a height of 20 – 25 m. But sometimes they reach even 50 m. Depending on the local tradition, the maypoles stay until the end of the month or until autumn.

Der Liebesmaien

Beside the big maypoles, there is also the tradition of so called “Liebesmaien” or “Maien”. These are smaller trees, mostly Birken (birch trees), that are put up by single men. They install the tree at the houses of their girlfriends (or their wannabes) to show them their love. The answer is normally a crate of beer or a dinner. At least if the answer is positive. But here again, the traditions are different from region to region. In my region for example they say, if you put up a “Maien” three years for the same girl, you have to marry her. I did it two times when I was young 🙂

After all I think the Maibaum is a nice tradition and it´s nice to tour around the villages and have a look at the different trees.

Do you have something like the Maibaum in your country or region as well? It would be nice to learn about similar traditions! Tell us by using the comment field.

Some vocabulary to this post:
Der Maibaum – maypole
aufrichten – to erect
Der Dorfplatz – village square
Bayern – Bavaria
Österreich – Austria
Skandinavien – Scandinavia
der Mittsommer – midsummer
die Veranstaltung – event
die Krone – crown
die Girlande – festoon
der Kranz – collar
die Birke – birch trees

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About the Author: jan

My name is Jan and I live in the south west of Germany. My profession is being a project manager at a company that creates digital media (first of all internet related things). This is my job since over a decade so I´m quite familiar with the web and its tools. Whereat today almost every school kid does. But that´s one of the main reasons why nowadays there are quasi no more limits in the internet and so it can be used for all imaginable types of things. For example learning languages! And that´s where we are at the moment. I first got in touch with Transparent Language when my family and I used to live in France a couple of years ago. I just had a break from work and by coincidence I produced some cultural videos in French. A few months later the whole blogging thing came up and I was lucky to be a part of it. So now my (second) job is to feed you with information, exercises, vocabulary, grammar and stories about Germany and German language. For being a passionate videographer I´m trying to do this more and more by videos. If you have any wishes or needs of topics that should be treated here, please don´t hesitate to contact me via a comment field. I´m open to your suggestions (as long as they are not too individual) and will try to satisfy your needs.


  1. Allan Mahnke:

    …und Mai Bowle?

  2. Mor:

    We have also this tradition in Czech Republic villiges. Thanks for this article 🙂