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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Germany Series at GermanPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind German holidays and observances. I’m Matt, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 11 - Labor Day
In this lesson, we will discuss how people celebrate May 1 in Germany. This day is celebrated every year as the Day of Labor or Tag der Arbeit, also known as May Day or Der erste Mai, and is a holiday regulated by law.
Now, before we get into more detail, I've got a question for you-
Where was the Maypole, which is called Maibaum in Germany, traditionally placed on May 1st?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later, so keep listening!
The labor movement continued to push strongly for the improvement of workplace conditions at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Their demands, such as an eight-hour working day, led to mass demonstrations, violent clashes, and strikes. May 1 reminds us of this struggle even today.
Nowadays, people in big cities assemble mostly for peaceful May Day demonstrations. In these manifestations, they demand more rights for workers, or call attention to abuses in the workplace. Since the 1980s, May 1 in Berlin-Kreuzberg has been a site for violent clashes, which usually have to be stopped by the police.
According to an old legend, witches, or Hexen in German, meet on Brocken Mountain and other high mountains on May 1 to dance. On this so-called Walpurgis Night or Walpurgisnacht, those who still want to celebrate the beginning of May dress up as witches to dance in the streets, creating a carnival-like atmosphere. As May 1 is a public holiday, nothing stands in the way of a night full of dancing and fun.
In order to prevent riots, the police in Berlin promote alternative events. In Kreuzberg there is the MyFest that includes a large Street Festival, or in German Straßenfest, which is attended every year by tens of thousands of people. Ever since this festival was introduced, there has actually been a significant reduction in violence.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Where was the Maypole traditionally placed on May 1?
The Maypole was traditionally placed in front of the house to show the occupants’ love on the night of May 1.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Do you also celebrate May 1 in your country?
Leave a comment telling us at GermanPod101.com. Until next time!

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Do you also celebrate Labor Day in your country?