Monday, January 07, 2013

What are those strange tree poles in Southern Germany?

As we were taking the train through southern Germany we came across these strange tall poles that looked like they had a Christmas tree on top. 

The pole is a Maypole or Maytree (called a Maibaum in German) that is used to celebrate the arrival of spring and probably has its roots in Pagan religion.  It is put up on either April 30th or May 1st in the centre of the village, a time that coincides with the Wiccan holiday Beltane.  It is a tall tree which has been striped of its branches and leaves leaving a short crown of green branches at the top.  There is also a wreath hung from these last branches that encircles the trunk. 

Trees have been a simple of fertility for eons and in some villages men put little versions of the trees in front of their sweethearts’ houses.

Some villages take the Maypole down again but others leave it up which is why summer tourists come across this weird “Christmas” tree.

Has Anyone Been Killed Riding a Mule Down the Grand Canyon?

The easiest way to descend into the Grand Canyon is by mule.  The idea of trusting an animal with my life is scary.  Has a mule ever fallen off the path?

There has been only one fatal accident.  It was of one of the mule attendants, not a visitor.

More recently, on May 4, 2009, a 66-year-old woman was injured when the mule she was riding lost its footing, fell and then rolled over her.  She was rescued by the National Park Service and flown to a nearby hospital.