The Bavarian Alps Feature


Maibaum: Bavaria's Maypole

The center of every town in Bavaria is the Maibaum or Maypole. The blue-and-white-striped pole is decorated with the symbol of every trade and guild represented in the town, and is designed to help visitors determine what services are available there. The effort and skill required to build one is a source of community pride.

The tradition dates back to the 16th century, and is governed by a strict set of rules. Great care is taken in selecting and cutting the tree, which must be at least 98 feet tall. Once completed, it cannot be erected before May 1. In the meantime, tradition and honor dictate that men from surrounding towns attempt to steal the pole and ransom it for beer and food, so it must be guarded 24 hours a day. Once the pole goes up, with quite a bit of leveraging and manual labor, it cannot be stolen and may only stand for three years.

Updated: 2014-03-11

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