"Erster Mai - First of May" Germany Local Custom Tip by Kathrin_E

Germany Local Customs: 320 reviews and 361 photos

  Stamp "100 years Labour Day", 1990
by Kathrin_E

May 1 is Tag der Arbeit, Labour Day. Traditionally this is the day of the workers' movement. The trade unions keep organizing demonstrations and events. They attract less and less participants, though. People take the unions' achievements for granted nowadays.

To most people May 1 is just a welcome day off. The usual activity on that day is a hiking trip with the family, a club or a bunch of friends, including a stopover in a beer garden. Even people who never set foot out of their house all year will go for a walk in the forest on May 1. Bike tours are considered a suitable alternative. (I chose going by bike today.)

May is the Wonnemonat, the month of joy. Tanz in den Mai, dances, are popular in the evening of April 30, also singing events called Maieinsingen.
Younger people prefer Walpurgisnacht parties, though.

In the catholic church, May 1 is the holiday of St Walpurgis. The night before is Walpurgisnacht when, according to legends, the witches meet to dance on certain mountain tops, the Brocken ("Blocksberg") being the best-known location. When the witches are out and about, also non-magical young humans feel the need to be naughty. If they stick to harmless pranks like wrapping someone's car in toilet paper or inserting a handful of washing powder into a fountain, all right. However, with the amounts of alcohol consumed, often the pranks don't stay harmless and real damage is caused. Walpurgisnacht is a busy night for the police.

Even worse... This date has, unfortunately, become popular both among neonazis and ultra-left-wing Autonome groups for marches and demonstrations, in other words: riots. Hamburg and Berlin are hotspots of riots, certain areas in these cities should be avoided that night and day.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated May 5, 2009
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