The Local Heritage Associati“D'Burgstoana” dances into May: We’ll get our dancing shoes on for the May festival!

It’s all happening here in Eben in Pongau at the May festival on 30th April: the maypole, a tall spruce, stripped of its bark and branches, decorated with red and white ribbons and wreaths made of twigs, is erected in the middle of the village. The Local Heritage Association D'Burgstoana, the traditional music band and all those who join in the celebrations are always there - a must for many locals. But what is the meaning of putting up a maypole? And who and what are "D'Burgstoana"?

May brings spring with it

The Maypole, which is erected in nearly all towns and villages in the province of Salzburg, has been a symbol of fertility, joie de vivre and the reawakening of nature after the long winter for centuries. Over time, it has also become a sign of good community spirit, as many helping hands are needed to transport and erect the tree. To this day, local farmers erect the maypole by muscle power on the village square. In the meantime, you can hear the sounds of a "Zugin" (accordion) and one or two "Juchitzer" (yodel cries) in addition to the music of the traditional band. The Eben May Festival would be unthinkable without the D'Burgstoana Local Heritage Association, which performs its rehearsed folk dances and thigh-slapping in the association's own traditional costume. Eva Mairhofer, a member of the Local Heritage Association for 22 years, tells us how the members prepare for their events such as the May festival and what life in the association is like.

Traditions are preserved

The Local Heritage Association D'Burgstoana was founded in 1922 as an "alpine costume preservation association". The name comes from the alpine pasture area Buchstein, which is pronounced "Buagstoa" in local dialect. Under the motto: "Faithful to the good old custom", the association ensures that a wide variety of old traditions are preserved and can thus live on. These include regional folk dances and music, traditional costumes and customs. One of these customs is the winter break from the end of November. "Kathrein stops the dancing, locks up the bass and fiddle," the folk saying goes. The commemoration day of St. Catherine of Alexandria heralds the pre-Christmas fasting period. Especially in the past, people in the Catholic Pongau refrained from dancing and music during this time. "After the break, we brush up on dances we've already learned before we venture into something new. That way, even new members quickly find their way around," Eva explains. Dances like Mühlradl (millwheel), Marschierboarischer (Bavarian march) or the Burgstoana-Plattler (Burgstein thigh-slapper) are part of the standard repertoire, the Bandltanz (ribbon dance) is usually performed at the May festival. In this dance around the maypole, the dancers hold red and white ribbons in their hands, weave them around the trunk through their dance and then undo the pattern again.

Community spirit as at the forefront

The association currently has a total of over 50 members between the ages of 4 and 40, divided into a children's group, a youth group and an adult group. "An important building block of our association and the dances is the musician. Every accordion player has their own way of playing, you get used to that as a dancer." The Vorplattler (chief thigh-slapper) also plays an important role: he determines the dances and knows the choreographies. What Eva appreciates most: "The community and getting together - it's always a fun time." In addition to rehearsals and outings, the association regularly goes on excursions to strengthen this community spirit. The association costume shows the togetherness to the outside world: the girls wear a traditional dirndl dress with quilted bodice with black skirt, apron and shawl made of blue silk fabric with a floral pattern. The boys wear leather trousers, a light grey loden jacket, a green waistcoat, a white shirt and a red silk tie.

Festivals are celebrated

In addition to the May festival, D'Burgstoana are also always present at Eben village evenings and church festivals such as the harvest festival, and next autumn they will organise the "Night in Traditional Costume" for the second time. "We are especially happy when we perform the dances flawlessly in front of an audience and other clubs when all the rehearsing has paid off," Eva says. Some dances also involve the audience, for example the Huttanz (hat dance) or the Bankerltanz (bench dance). But D'Burgstoana are not only to be found in Eben. Once a year, all the local and traditional costume associations in the district meet to exchange ideas and compare dance routines. They also represent their town at festivities all over the country: in recent years, for example, the association has taken part in the Rupertikirtag (St. Rupert’s Day Fair) and the opening of the Dult Fair in the city of Salzburg, at folklore evenings in neighbouring towns and at the star pilgrimage to the Hochgründeck. So, there are plenty of opportunities to experience a performance by the Eben Local Heritage Association - and maybe even to take part ;).

More information about the May Festival in Eben im Pongau can be found here.

photo credits: Michaela Jäger, Trachtenmusikkappelle Eben, Angi Pfuner