Slovak maypoles in the pandemic

Maypoles erected amid the crisis bring back hope for better days.

People in Zemplínske Hradište in the Trebišov District decorate a maypole on April 30, 2020. (Source: TASR)

On a sunny May Day afternoon in the picturesque settlement of Zázrivá, surrounded by scenic hills in the Orava Region, nine older men, wearing face masks and shabby clothes, with shovels in their hands, stand and admire a debarked spruce. At 25-metres tall, it is as high as a swimming pool is long. The wooden pole, with only the top branches preserved and now decorated, was erected in the middle of the village with the help of an old Tatra crane truck but without the usual crowds and music circulating around.

“The coronavirus will not prevail over us,” Zázrivá Mayor Matúš Mních said. “The maypole must stand.”

This year, the coronavirus has changed the plans of municipalities that traditionally celebrate May Day in grand fashion – inviting people to an important outdoor hub of their towns, be it a main square, a church, or a town hall, to help decorate the maypole and together raise it by hand while listening to folk groups, dancing, and tasting different foods.

Without the 200 visitors who usually come to the celebrations at the Museum of Ukrainian Culture in Svidník, eastern Slovakia, the closed Museum decided to erect its maypole anyway in the month of love as May is dubbed.

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