Wednesday, May 1, 2013

MAIFEST

May is a special month in Germany, often celebrated with a Maifest (May Festival).  If the timing is right, many towns try to hold their festivals on the first of May, or as close to the first of May as possible.  However, the official kickoff of spring can be scheduled anytime during the month of May.

It's traditional to set up a Maibaum (Maypole) where brightly colored ribbons are intertwined around the pole as dancers perform intricate movements in a circle around the pole.

Parades, music, festival food, and rides for the children are typical, but some communities try to outdo each other by organizing events that include crowning a Maik├Ânigpaar (May King and Queen) and feature elaborate galas where festival-goers dress to impress.

The official drink of these festivals is a Maibowle (May Punch).  Recipes can vary, but typically include a mixture of white wine and sparkling wine (Sekt) and, very often, a syrup called "Waldmeister" (made from the Sweet Woodruff plant) is added to give the punch extra flavor and the traditional light green color that reminds everyone of the fresh grass and leaves we look forward to seeing after the winter snows melt away.

Germany's May Punch (Maibowle) is often a spring green color.

Maibowle Recipe:Ingredients:
5 limes (or lemons) 
4 tbsp (or to taste) Waldmeistersirup (Woodruff Syrup)
3 cups dry white wine, like Riesling
3 cups German sparkling wine (Sekt) or Champagne 
Preparation:
Remove zest from 2 limes, then slice limes. Juice the other 3 limes to make 6 tbsp lime juice. Pour chilled wine into a large punch bowl. Add Waldmeister syrup, lime zest and lime slices to wine. Add champagne & serve immediately. 
All amounts are approximate. Feel free to adapt the recipe to your taste.
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