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The Bavarian Maibaum Festival

November 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Features, Photography

The Maibaum or Maypole festival is a typical Bavarian cultural event. It has been taking place in towns throughout Germany and Austria since the 16th century. Follow the traditions of this Bavarian celebration through the lens of photographer Rolf Hicker.

It takes many strong men to lift the traditional maibaum (decorated tree) at the festival, which is mostly organized by local traditional youth groups. The maibaum itself gets erected by a group of helpers because the tall tree is lifted with only a selection of smaller poles. The process can take many hours. During the last push to get the tree up, you’ll hear the men screaming “hau rucks” for leverage and unity.
Traditional Maibaumfest in Putzbrunn in Southern Bavaria, Germany, near Munich. Traditional Maibaumfest in Putzbrunn in Southern Bavaria, Germany, near Munich. Lifting of the Maibaum © Rolf Hicker

At the event, visitors can find many of these participants wearing traditional Bavarian clothing. Special socks are part of the traditional Bavarian clothing that’s worn during the lifting process. These special socks are worn with the famous German “lederhosen.”
Traditional Maibaumfest in Putzbrunn in Southern Bavaria, Germany, near Munich. Traditional Maibaumfest in Putzbrunn in Southern Bavaria, Germany, near Munich. German men wearing lederhosen © Rolf Hicker

While the boys are lifting up the maibaum, the girls are making sure that the guys are staying hydrated with original Bavarian beer. These women are wearing traditional clothing called a dirndl during the festivities. The traditional maibaum fest is a all day event. It’s common to see young men filling up a Masskrug or a 1 Liter Stein with fresh beer from a large wooden barrel.
Traditional Maibaumfest in Putzbrunn in Southern Bavaria, Germany, near Munich. Traditional Maibaumfest in Putzbrunn in Southern Bavaria, Germany, near Munich. Woman wearing a dirndl + Man with Bavarian beer © Rolf Hicker
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rolf-hicker.jpgRolf Hicker is a full time pro photographer who specializes in travel, nature, and wildlife. His images have been published in many of the largest magazines including National Geographic and Readers Digest as well as with some of the best known brand names like BMW, Holland America, Porsche, and Alaska Airlines. View more of Rolf’s Germany Pictures.

 

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Comments

17 Responses to “The Bavarian Maibaum Festival”
  1. Ashley says:

    Great photos. Looks like a fun festival. The traditional clothing from German culture is an interesting touch. Nice that they are keeping that tradition.

  2. Albert T says:

    Interesting photos, Rolf.

    Didn’t realize that Germans still dressed in that manner for festivals.

  3. Gennaro says:

    @Ashley – The traditional clothing always does it for me. Rolf captured very well.

    @Albert T – Not to mention the whole Maibaum ritual.

  4. Peter Brown says:

    I’ll take one of those jugs of beer. You can see the freshness. Nice shots all around.

  5. Tim S says:

    I’ve been to Oktoberfest, which is a lot of fun. I like the cultural aspects of this one better though. Looks very authentic. Love the smoke or chalk coming up on the first shot.

  6. Gennaro says:

    @Peter Brown – Looks like it was just brewed.

    @Tim S – Agreed. Rolf really captures the authenticity of the event.

  7. Anderson says:

    Nice to see some focus on traditional cultures in Europe. Usually it’s from Asia, Africa, or Central America. That’s also interesting, but it might be even rarer in European society. Nice photos, Rolf.

  8. J.D. Meier says:

    It looks like a whole lot of fun going on!

  9. Looks like incredible fun. I think I want to marry the beer stein lady — my wife would be really offended.

  10. Gennaro says:

    @Anderson – Interesting point.

    @J.D. Meier – Wish I was there for this one.

    @Devin – I’d have to side with your wife.

  11. Elijah says:

    What’s not to love about beer and funky outfits with suspenders? And cleavage?

  12. Now those are beer muggs where can I get some of those. And I am loving those lenderhosens!

  13. james says:

    To me, the main advantage of auto-focus cameras is that they give us the ability to hold a beer in one hand and shoot pictures with the other! Cheers!

  14. Rolf Hicker says:

    Thanks for all your comments! I really appreciate them. Yes, it was a lot of fun and I only can recommend to anybody – if you are in Southern Germany, in Bavaria on May 1st of every year, don’t miss a real Maibaumfest.

  15. Stan says:

    Cool photos! I love Bavaria:)

    About “Lederhosen” – I believe they’re not socks, but the traditional leather shorts.

  16. Mike says:

    These type of festivals are the kind that need to be seen in person. I wish I was in Germany during Oktoberfest. But I will celebrate at home drinking me beers and lifting a branch… ***sigh***

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