Germany sure does have some funky holidays; the first of May is no exception. I’ve researched it several times, and still I’m a bit foggy.
The first day of the month of May is May Day, an excuse to celebrate spring. And sweethearts apparently. I never thought a holiday marking the beginning of a new season would have Valentine-ish aspect to it. ‘Tis true though; follow the link to read all about it.
According to many websites I visited, maypoles should be littered about the town, and dancing should be happening. I’ve seen no such things, neither this year nor last year.
But even more interesting to me is this… Not only is the first day of the fifth month May Day (Maifeiertag), it’s also the German Labor Day (Tag der Arbeit). And the German version is quite different from what I know of the American Labor Day.
Americans see Labor Day as an opportunity to get together for picnics, barbecues, outings, and generally anything that has absolutely nothing to do with work. Germans see Labor Day as an opportunity to protest, uh, well, labor. It’s a day known for demonstrations and parades.
(Though don’t misunderstand – Germans like their barbecues as well. Just see below.)
Again, I’ve seen no such things. But perhaps that is because I don’t live in Berlin, a city most notorious for making (sometimes violent) waves. In fact, I looked to see what The Local had to say about May 1 and found that this year (2012) German Police had a “High-tech water cannon ready for Berlin May Day.” Yikes.
A German friend told me that one of the traditions for this holiday in our corner of Germany is to go for a hike. I wimped out on the hike, but we did uphold the other custom of having a barbecue. Here are some pictures from our May Day afternoon.