The night before (April 30th) is Walpurgisnacht which is a legend involving wintry witches & devils welcoming spring. We saw posters advertising midnight dance parties to "Tanz im den Mai" (Dance into May), but did not see any witches or devils. :)
However, we did see another traditional celebration associated with May day. To show affection for a girl, a boy will cut down a birch tree from the forrest, decorate it with brightly colored crepe paper, and tie it in front of her house (or to her house). The tradition dates back to the 17th century and originated from an older pagan tradition to symbolize the reawakening of spring and fertility.
I noticed on May 1st that several houses on our street had what appeared to be colorful ribbon decorations on an existing tree in front of the house, but upon closer look, they were indeed cut birch trees!
This morning, we found this one on our way to school, dedicated to Miriam.
A friend took this picture of their neighbor's house, which received TWO trees! Are there sisters or just 1 lucky girl??
I must admit, I was impressed. I had no idea German boys were so romantic! It could help that supposedly part of the tradition says that the boy must remove the tree after a month and that he will receive a crate of beer from the girl's parents!!! I need to find out if this part is true too!