My husband and I enjoyed taking part (well, not literally taking part) in an Austrian and Bavarian tradition a while ago. The tradition was the raising of the Maypole or Maibaum. The oroginal custom dates back as far as the middle ages, although the particular celebration we enjoyed only dates back to the 19th century. Since that time, the maypole symbolises renewal, growth and springtime - a sign that the bountiful time of year has arrived.
Apart from all the lederhosen and dirndl dreses worn by the villagers taking part in the ceremony, we were shocked by just how long it takes to get a pine tree from a horizontal lying position up into a vertical standing position. If you're wondering, the answer's over an hour! I know!
Not only that, our eyes were opened to just how serious a business the raising of the maypole is. The guys taking part in the ceremony had to be really careful where they positioned the support poles they were using to gradually raise the maypole. They spent more time than I ever imagined, checking to make sure the supports were re-positioned each time correctly before they would hoist the pole a few centimetres further towards its final upright position.
It takes a long time to raise the maypole. It's not just because the maypole itself is super heavy and the last thing you would want would be for it to fall and hit anyone or damage a nearby town hall or other building. Additionally, however, the successful raising of the maypole take a long time because, after each push and lift, the guys 'have to' stop for a sip of beer alongside their fellow hoisters.
"What's a maypole got to do with gratitude?", you might be wondering.
Well, apart from being grateful for springtime, growth, and the return of all the flowers and buds, everything that is associated with this wonderful annual tadition, the raising of the maypole is a bit like our gratitude journey: it takes time, patience, diligence and care to get your gratitude practice upstanding and in a sure position.
At the same time, it's also important to enjoy the journey and find time in your practice to share the festivities that gratitude brings with it, with those who are on a similar journey with you.