Love Springs up Like Birch Trees

Birch tree lashed to a street lamp in front of a house. Stormy sky.
A traditional May tree in the Rhineland. © Laurel Decher, 2017

May 1st is a sort of  Valentine’s-Day-on-Steroids in this part of Germany.

On the last night of April, birch trees pop up everywhere. Young men put them up in front of their sweetheart’s houses and write the girl’s name in a giant heart hung on a tree.

It’s a windy time of year. You can imagine the number of cable ties involved.

This is a country of engineers after all.

Fathers evidently offer traditional payment for taking the huge trees down again at the end of May.

Something about a case of beer. It’s Germany, after all.



All this spring love leads to a lot of forestry. Last year was leap year and the girls put up the trees for the boys.

At least ten young birch trees lashed to a parked trailer. Their trunks are so long, they drag on the ground.
Cut birch trees ready for delivery. © Laurel Decher, 2017.

The local paper reminded birch tree customers to get a permit before cutting their tree in the forest. The local craft store sells waterproof streamers so your oversized Valentine doesn’t leak dye on the white plaster front of the house.

Every village has it’s own huge May tree. The neighboring village “sings in the May” every year. All around, a charming holiday, don’t you think?


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Laurel Decher

LAUREL DECHER writes stories about all things Italian, vegetable, or musical. Beloved pets of the past include "Stretchy the Leech" and a guinea pig that unexpectedly produced twins. She's famous for a nonexistent sense of direction, but carries maps because people always ask her for directions. When she's not lost, she can be found on Twitter and on her blog, This Is An Overseas Post, where she writes about life with her family in Germany. She's still a Vermonter and an epidemiologist at heart. PSA: Eat more kale! :) Her short fiction for adults, UNFORESEEN TIMES, originally appeared in _Windhover_. Photo: © Jane Joo Park, 2017.

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