MAIFEST (May Festival)
Our May Festival replicates Tanz in den Mai, the Dance into May, and traces its origins back thousands of years, with many variations and customs. It may be best known for its tradition of the Maypole dance and crowning of the Queen of the May. In Christian Europe, May celebrations often center around the Blessed Virgin Mary, and works of art, school skits, and so forth, Mary's head will often be adorned with flowers in a May crowning.
In rural regions of Germany, especially the Harz Mountains, Walpurgisnacht celebrations of pagan origin are traditionally held on the night before May Day, including bonfires and the wrapping of a Maibaum (Maypole). In the Rhineland, May 1st is also celebrated by the delivery of a Maypole, a tree covered in streamers to the house of a girl the night before. The tree is typically from a love interest.
Today festivals, celebrations and gatherings of friends held in early May continue these ancient traditions. Maypoles can be found in villages, towns and cities throughout the Germanic world. The Reading Liederkranz is happy to host an annual May Festival, OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, as we welcome members of the community to the opening of our Biergarten for a fun and exciting summer season – PROSIT!
Mayfest is one of mankind's oldest traditions, the celebration of nature's bright reawakening after winter's cold darkness. The ancient pagan festival later took on Christian religious significance but is now a colorful, joyous part of German history and culture.
The custom of the maypole began in the Tenth Century, when villagers would erect a pole in the local square and decorate it with sausages, cakes and multicolored ribbons. Dancing around the maypole, medieval citizens believed, would bring good luck and wealth.
Its religious and superstitious aspects have long since disappeared, but Mayfest is still celebrated throughout Germany, where cities and villages are bedecked with colorful drapery and flowers. Some areas light bonfires, while others elect May kings and most retain the maypole. Once again, the food is plentiful and beer and wine flow freely.
What better way to say goodbye to winter's chill and hello to the comforts of spring?