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By Mona B
This week’s Fun Fact: The Maytree (or as a German would say: Der Maibaum)
Did you ever ask yourself why there is that giant decorated tree stem in the middle of Lincoln Square? Well, here you get your answer.
A Maypole is a giant tree or tree stem usually positioned on April 30th or the first of May every year in the city center. In most of the German regions, putting up the tree is accompanied by a big town or street festival that welcomes the beginning of the spring. Not seldom you will see 20 or more men carrying the giant tree through the whole city singing songs and celebrating the old German custom until they finally arrive at the center of the town where they are welcomed by a cheering crowd.
Every Maytree is decorated in a special way, showing of the colours of the region’s emblem or important figures of the town’s history. Having a closer look at the Maytree located in the heart of Lincoln Square, we can see that it is painted white and blue after the Bavarian diamand-shaped emblem which symbolizes the blue and white sky. Very important when decorating this tree “bavarian-style” is that the blue and white spiral is painted from the bottom left to the top right (Yes, people actually do notice a difference.)
Setting up the tree is always accompanied by many traditions like Maydances, singing special songs and of course – a lot of beer drinking.
Besides used as a traditional Maytree, the tree also can be used as a prove of love. In former times, if a young man wanted to proof his love to an umarried woman, he put up a little tree on top of the roof of her house to show his desire to be with her.
Set up on the night of April 30th, the Maytree which is decorated with a wooden heart that carries the woman’s name, remains on the roof for 30 days, until June 1st, when the man who had put it up comes back to the house of his love and takes it down. If the man was lucky, the woman will then invite him to her house for coffee and cake, dinner or simply a beer which told him that she returns his love!