Mai Tag – May Day

The first of May in Australia is supposed to be Labour Day, but inconveniently falling just after Easter and Anzac Day, the holiday is now in October. In Europe, May Day is really celebrated as the first day of spring, or the fruitful season. This year, in Germany, the day dawned fine and sunny, if still a little cold. Picnics were packed and bicycles loaded for long rides in the countryside. Young people filled up ‘bollerwagen’ with beer and trundled them around the streets in merry fashion for later celebratiBorgholzhausen Chorons. We were fortunate to experience a Mai Sing, where the Borgholzhausen Chor, including Fred’s sister Edith, sang Fruelings Leider, (spring songs) accompanied by Alpen horn in the garden of the Schultze cafe, a family run business dating back to the 18th century.

Alpen horns

May pole
Mai Baum

The Chor have been singing together for nearly 40 years, upholding a tradition of Leider singing that is unique to Germany. Mostly mature people, their voices were still pure as they harmonised under the magnolia and cherry trees. At interval, the hosting cafe served cherry liqueur to keep their throats warm! A 90 year old former Chor member and we Aussies were welcomed at the start and at the end of the performance, Olga, the Choirmistress was presented with a huge basket of hydrangeas.

Tannenhof Grottendieck
Tannenhof Grottendieck

Afterwards we proceeded onto Tannenhof Grottendieck for lunch. The Tannenhof apart from being a wonderful old farmhouse restaurant, grows Tannenbaume (Christmas trees) for harvesting in December. One tree takes 12 years to grow to maturity. We feasted on Forellan fillet with Mandeln Butter (trout fillet in almond butter) and Rouladen and Rotkohl, a type of beef stew with red cabbage, appropriately accompanied by Pilsener and Riesling.

Our last day in the Westfalian springtime was spent brunching with friends and exploring Haus Brincke, another Hof where we found a foundation stone, dated 1644. The entrance door was studded with deer feet! Perhaps a trophy from some 17th century hunter or Jaeger, as they say here.

Deer feet IMG_0270

Around this time in Australia, the Dutch East Indies company was sailing up the Western Australian coast to Indonesia to ply the spice trade and the great ship Batavia was crashing onto the Abrolhos reef depositing it’s treasure and unfortunate passengers Haus Brinckeinto the sea. The spices brought back to Europe from Indonesia would have inspired the cinnamon flavoured Lebkucken, originally baked by the Shultze family at Borgholzhausen.


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