Maypole in the village square

As with many local villages, Maypoles have been springing up all over the place … and we now have an impressive Maypole in the village square!

It’s great to see the younger (and not so young!) men of the village working together.  They clearly had done this before …

IMG_7183  Firstly the Maypole entered the village square, using a tractor for the base end and a set of wheels to carry the top end.  The bark had already been stripped away, leaving a smooth and light wood-coloured trunk – but the very top of the tree had a few pine branches left on it.  Strapped part way down was a separate ‘good looking’ pine tree, with all branches intact, perhaps 3 metres high.  This was soon to be the ‘new’ top of the tree.

The trunk was positioned with the bottom end near to the prepared concrete base (sunk into the ground) and the tree was laid out over a couple of stands.  The very top of the tree was removed with a chainsaw – and the new separate tree was then attached in its place, using nails and wire to secure it firmly.

The younger members of the Maypole Team stepped into action and decorated the new top of the tree with red and white ribbon.  Further decoration along the upper half of the trunk was added, including large circular green wreaths, which end up being suspended once the Maypole is vertical.  More greenery was twirled around the tree trunk – and then the lifting began.

Three main elements come together to position the Maypole.  Pitch forks, long poles, and enthusiastic and knowledgeable men of the village.  The long poles look like over-sized chopsticks with a rope tying the ends not quite together (but which leaves about 25 cm between the top of the poles).  It’s the rope part that comes into contact with the trunk, with each top of the chopstick being positioned either side of the trunk.

So – the lifting begins, with men holding each side of the chopsticks to lift the trunk and the pitch forks keeping the trunk of the Maypole, and the chopsticks, in the right place.  The lifting sticks get progressively closer to the base, whilst ever-longer lifting sticks appear on the scene to lift the other end and then move slowly towards the base as the Maypole gets higher.  A little drama was added when the pole was almost upright and the wind seemed to increase – but everyone kept their heads, and after a good 90 minutes or so the Maypole is eventually lifted into position!


Keeping Obertraun Tidy!

Tidy wheelbarrow on top of telephone box

To encourage tidyness in the village there’s a tradition in Obertraun … which means that anything with wheels on, that is left outside overnight on Easter Sunday, may be removed and let’s say – ‘relocated’ – all in order to remind residents to ‘keep Obertraun tidy!’

Fortunately kind neighbours alerted us to this tradition when we first moved here … when wheelie bins can be carted off, and as you can see, bicycles manage to get to the top of lamp posts and wheelbarrows are hung from street signs …

All in good fun and just another interesting tradition!

Tidy Bike  Tidy Bike 2  Tidy bike on lamp post  Tidy Wheelbarrow   Tidy Bike  Tidy Bike at the Gemeinde  Tidy up on top of roof

Three Wise Men …

ThreeWiseMenIn Austria we are often asked ‘so, what is the mathematical equation written in chalk on your door’?  And to many people, this is a total mystery.  This year it’s

20 – C + M + B – 16

and we totally agree – it certainly does look like something out of an algebra class (and brings back memories of not really understanding anything about it!)

However … after people start to guess at what it could mean, they may take a look at the numbers in the equation … and realise that the numbers actually relate to the year – so 2016.

Then … what about the letters … perhaps the title of this article gives it away?  it’s the initials of the names of the Three Wise Men (Caspar and Melchior and Balthasar)!  They come to sing a song and bring blessings to the house for the year.  In return they receive chocolates and sweets (to share with the other ‘Wise Men’ who are visiting other villagers) and a donation for local good causes.

So rather than being perplexed by memories of maths classes – you now know one of the mysteries of the universe 🙂


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Happy New Year and Welcome to 2016!

Happy New YearIt’s minus six degrees – it’s almost the New Year – and the local Obertraun band have just visited to play music in our entrance hall … first a few tunes … and then a few drinks …

Our lovely guests were able to wish them all a “Happy New Year” in various languages ?

I hope the schnapps will help keep them warm as they continue on until midnight! ❄❄❄

Click here for a few seconds of video



Balcony flowers

IMG_3948 Finally the weather has warmed up and the snow has stopped falling on the local mountains … and we have planted our balcony flowers – the first at Landhaus Lilly …

I’m not sure how large they will all grow (and hopefully I’ll remember to feed and water them) – but for now I’m delighted and look forward to them blooming all summer long (with a bit of luck!)




























Balloon Week – in Gosau

BalloonEve_Gosau6This week has been ‘Balloon Week’ in Gosau, a village located in the neighbouring valley, where we go to enjoy the skiing of the Dachstein West ski region.  Hot air balloons have been floating around Gosau during the day …  and we have even seen the balloons come over the tops of the mountains and float into our valley and on towards Lake Hallstatt.  They have had a good week weather-wise too … mostly beautiful clear blue skies, not too many clouds – and some sunshine as well!

This evening, at the end of Balloon Week, Gosau hosted an evening display of the bright and multi-coloured hot air balloons again … as balloons of various shapes and sizes stood out against the night sky.  At one point they even ‘waltzed’ (or perhaps more accurately gently ‘twirled around’) to music from Strauss – fabulous!

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As we’ve only been here for 6 months, we haven’t yet gone through an entire year of the festivities and traditions … so this evening was a new experience.  In spite of some rain, the village celebrates the eve of the visit of the Three Kings (or Epiphany) on 6 January with the Glöcklerlauf.  The aim is to help banish the evil spirits and welcome the good.  Firstly a group of children appear with the small lantern headdresses and then, as the next taller group joins the parade, so the lanterns get larger and larger!  Different sized bells tied around their waists are constantly clanging as they parade and jump around.  The beautiful and colourful lanterns are made by the villagers over few months leading up to the parade.  They are lit from the inside by candles and carried on their heads around the village square for all to admire.  The parade then divides up and heads off around the village … an incredible sight to see in Obertraun this evening!

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