May, with the rebirth of nature after dark, winter months and the feeling of new life and beginnings it always brings, is one of the most popular and celebrated months of the year in Germany. Filled with festivals, processions and customs which differ not only from region to region but also from village to village.
Some are Christian traditions, others based on pre-Christian spring and pagan festivities beginning with Walpurgisnacht, when witches were believed to meet on the highest peak in Germany’s Harz mountains and party until morning.
There is the Beltane festival of fire with its bonfires, marking the ending of the spring and beginning of the summer quarter of the year, while celebrations around May Day’s raising and decorating of new May Poles live up to the ideal of Dancing into May.
And the month is also part of the brief time when a real Maibowle, May Punch, also known as Waldmeisterbowle Woodruff Punch, is enjoyed. A perfect match for those warm spring or early summer evenings. Served everywhere during May, and hopefully even a few days afterwards, it’s made from fresh Sweet Woodruff, Waldmeister, a perennial spring herb with small white flowers which grows wild in Germany’s forests. Although in other countries it is best to use a cultivated plant.
In season only between April and June when the leaves are tender, the dried whole plant is used for traditional medicines, the sweet smelling dried flowers and leaves for potpourri, and the fresh herb for flavoring food. Including Maibowle.
Maibowle can be made with or without alcohol, and is easy to make. To find recipes for both variations head on over to the source link listed below.