Maypoles adorning fountains


Category:
Social practices
Canton:

Description

According to Eduard Strübin, a Basel folklorist, maypoles as fountain decorations are unique to his region. On the eve of 1 May, poles with small decorated fir trees are put up at fountains in more than half of the municipalities in the Basel area. In many places responsibility for erecting the maypoles lies with young residents. The earliest known written records of the practice date from 1544. In addition to the festivities around the maypole, many villages are a stage for May singing performed by folk music groups or male choirs. Most folk music groups perform the May dance, which was introduced to the Basel area by the Liestal folk music group, founded in 1932. The May dance is performed with ribbons, which seems particularly appropriate for the Basel region given its silk ribbon industry.

Image gallery

  • Maypole (tree), Liestal, Mühlematt © Theodor Strübin/Museum.BL, Liestal
  • Maypole (tree), Füllinsdorf © Theodor Strübin/Museum.BL
  • Break at the fountain with the maypole (tree), Liestal, Mühlematt © Theodor Strübin/Museum.BL, Liestal
  • May singing and ribbon dancing in Liestal, 1953 © Theodor Strübin/Museum.BL, Liestal
  • Maypole on a fountain (Sissach BL, may 2017) © Karin Janz
  • Maypole on the village fountain (Zunzgen BL, may 2017) © Karin Janz
  • Little maypole (Brüttelen BE, 2015) © Priska Moser
  • Maypole with inscription (Brüttelen BE, 2015) © Priska Moser
  • Maypole (tree), Liestal, Mühlematt © Theodor Strübin/Museum.BL, Liestal
  • Maypole (tree), Füllinsdorf © Theodor Strübin/Museum.BL
  • Break at the fountain with the maypole (tree), Liestal, Mühlematt © Theodor Strübin/Museum.BL, Liestal
  • May singing and ribbon dancing in Liestal, 1953 © Theodor Strübin/Museum.BL, Liestal
  • Maypole on a fountain (Sissach BL, may 2017) © Karin Janz
  • Maypole on the village fountain (Zunzgen BL, may 2017) © Karin Janz
  • Little maypole (Brüttelen BE, 2015) © Priska Moser
  • Maypole with inscription (Brüttelen BE, 2015) © Priska Moser

Image gallery

Video

A Basel folk music group dancing around the maypole, weaving their ribbons into a pattern © Museum.BL, Liestal

Publications
  • Eduard Strübin: Jahresbrauch im Zeitenlauf. Kulturbilder aus der Landschaft Basel. Liestal, 1991

  • Mai – Maibaum. In: Schweizerisches Idiotikon – Wörterbuch der schweizerdeutschen Sprache. Frauenfeld, 1881-2011

Documentation