The changeable weather continues. If you live in England you get used to having all sorts of different weather on the same day, but over here the rhythm of change is much slower. Usually you get a few days of roughly the same stuff. But the weather in April hardly ever settled down for more than a day or two – the only time we had a week of consistent weather was when it was really bad. Must be El Nino.
I think April was feeling a bit guilty, though, because it gave us 2 days of sunshine at the very end. Friday was glorious and yesterday was mild and dry. A good opportunity for us to do spring/summery things – such as mowing and raking the lawn, spraying weedkiller on the bit of pavement we have to look after and even having lunch outside. As it was a Saturday, I made a quick trip to the recycling centre too. At the end of the day everything was feeling shipshape and we were doing a pretty good impression of a middle-class German suburban family. And then along came May.
May 1st announced itself with a temperature plunge and overnight rain. I did sneak out to play some cold, wet and windy golf in the early morning (nobody else in sight – just how I like it) and swung by the bakery on the way back home. But I had forgotten – May 1st is a public holiday so the bakery was closed!
That’s the thing about the Mayday public holiday. It doesn’t care which day of the week it is, it happens anyway. As an employer, I am quite pleased that May 1st (Tag der Arbeit – Worker’s Day) falls on a Sunday because we don’t lose a working day. But the employees get their own back in May because there are two more public holidays coming up and they both fall on a Thursday. These two Thursday bank holidays (Ascension and Corpus Christi) are double-trouble for employers because the Fridays following them are so-called “Brückentage” (bridge days) and more or less everyone wants to take them as holiday. You get four days off work for just one day holiday. And as if that wasn’t enough, Pfingsten (Pentecost) falls in the middle of the month so that’s a Monday off too.
May 1st is a day full of tradition in Germany, but it is celebrated very differently depending on the region. If you are in rural Bavaria, then today is the day that the village Maibaum (literally May tree, but obviously Maypole) is put up and the young ladies dance around it to welcome spring. Then there is a lot of sitting around and drinking. If you are disaffected youth in Berlin then you will put on your hoody and wrap a scarf around your face before joining the demonstration in Kreuzberg and setting fire to a few cars before the police water-cannon you. The trade unions use May 1st for traditional gatherings and demonstrations in the major cities. I heard a few trade union leaders on the radio this morning calling for more equality – which they do every year. But here in this quiet corner of Baden-Württemberg the only sign that today is special is… the bakery was shut.
Wherever you are, I wish you a happy Mayday. I am going to honour the workers of the world by going out for a jog, having a bath and then hitting the sofa.