The word of the week comes from a statement made by an Austrian news reporter describing the head-to-head election results for Austria’s new president. Tarek Leitner of the Austrian public TV station, ORF, offered his professional, analytical take on the situation as “Arschknapp.”
And with the results standing at 50/50 on the evening after the election and a nation holding its breath and this time around – the whole world watching — while the over 800,000 absentee ballots that will decide the outcome are counted, Leitner’s political analysis seems Arschgenau.
Just gotta call it fate. I post the maypole article below a few days ago. Then just two days later, I am walking through the first district past a cozy little restaurant near the university and low and behold, what greets me — a stolen maypole. Some cheeky students snatched the maypole from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences of Vienna (Boku), transported it on the Bim (do maypoles need tickets, Herr Schaffner?) and erected it at that restaurant to hang out for a while and spread May good-cheer to the lawyers, politicians, tourists and students who pass the 1st district eatery on their way to their next appointment. LOVE IT! (see featured photo at beginning of text). Rumor has it that the green-with-envy Technical University students have asked if the stunt qualifies their Boku brethren for extra credit points because everyone knows, “while the TU students are working their butts off for every point possible, the Boku students are racking them in with far easier tasks and twice the fun.” Well, TU students, if you’re good, maybe the Boku students who swiped the maypole will invite you to the Jause and beer that will no doubt be demanded as ransom.
In any case, I’ll keep my readers updated as the story progresses…
Original post about the maypole tradition:
While flag-waving workers and balloon-tied toddlers led by SPÖ politicians parading to the beat of marching bands through Vienna’s street culminate in a sea of red at the city’s Rathaus, another Austrian tradition takes places in what may appear to be tranquil town squares throughout the country. Perhaps it’s the chimes of the church bells or the gurgling of the square’s fountain that lure you into the belief that here is one place in the the world at least, where one can sip one’s Melange, admire the budding window boxes and enjoy the scent of freshly baked bread tempting you from the bakery next door. No worries. The universe of this little town square is on its proper course.
But then you look up to admire the town’s symbol of pride. The pole that you noticed the townspeople raising the day before with music and fanfare, the tall, slender, wooden pole that towered above the highest house in town with the small pine tree attached to its tippy-top, it’s different now. There’s something missing. The tree! The tree is gone! And from the corner of your eye, you spot ’em. Two young men stealthily stuffing the last remaining pine branch into the back of their Opel before they speed off in the direction of the neighboring village.
Yes, in an annual attempt at one-upmanship, villages throughout this serene land of white windy winters that melt into spring, engage in a tradition of a more mischievous thing. They steal each other’s maypoles. And because the maypoles only rival the Gamsbart in their display of pride and masculinity, they are guarded round-the-clock. But some villages prove more clever than others. Upper Austrians, for example, have been quite crafty. In 2012 a group from Engerwitzdorf, a town outside of Linz with just 8000 inhabitants, managed in three nights to steal a total of twelve maypoles from neighboring villages. And afterwards they even had the audacity to cheekily display their bounty along the highway. In Lower Austria, another group of thieves chose an even more brazen place to display their prize — the lion’s enclosure of the Haag zoo.
But it’s all in good fun. And tradition doesn’t only stipulate the amount of days that the trees can be stolen (three after being raised) but also the means of return. The home village loads some kegs of beer onto a tractor and drives the ransom payment to the hostage-taking village in return for the “missing” tree. Unless you are the mayor of Linz, in which case you may decide not to pay the beer because the tree went up 4 days before May 1 and was guarded 5 days, and then stolen 10 days after it went up. Whoever said math isn’t useful in the real world? And that sometimes it pays to turn a blind eye to numbers and stringent rules in the name of good fun.
250 years ago today, the emperor opened the imperial hunting grounds to the “common man” and “common woman.” Every Austrian child pays a visit to the amusement park after confirmation and at least twice in a lifetime (once as a child and once with their own children) every Austrian enjoys unparalleled views of Vienna from Prater’s “Riesenrad.” Personally, I love Vienna’s “green lungs” where the Fiakers go to sleep at night, the beavers build their homes and the attire of the chestnut trees reveal the season. Some of my favorite Prater pastimes include running, renting 4 person bikes and racing friends, consuming a greasy hunk of pork leg with freshly grated horseradish and frothing Budweis, and soaking in the beautiful Viennese sunsets from the Riesenrad. Prater is a required stop for all Vienna visits – no matter how old or young the visitors.
To re-iterate yesterday’s post: America needs to adopt the Austrian Easter tradition of “Eierpecken” – which, as Americans, we will translate in a testosterone-laced manner as “Egg Boxing.” Because what’s a good family get-together without a little raw competition with the least favorite cousins?
Objective: smash or even just crack your opponent’s Easter egg with yours while leaving your egg smooth, crack-free and unscathed.
Needed: two hard-boiled, dyed, Easter eggs, two willing contenders, distinction of the “head” (Kopf) vs. the “butt” (Popsch) of the egg (see photo on right). That’s it. Of course spectators to gush over your victory and Chuck’s defeat never hurt – especially if they are poised and ready to capture the moment for digital eternity.
The egg head is the “Kopf” and the most narrow part of the ovid. Egg butt is the “Popsch” or “Po” and is the “bottom” part of the egg.
Step 1:Preparation. As every expert egg boxer can tell you, successful egg boxing begins with the selection of the perfect hen. Yes, in this case, the chicken comes before the egg because young hens produce the most durable eggs. The shells of young hens contain more protein which makes the egg shells harder, thicker, and more durable. So having a young chick in your corner is the first step to victory. (And please don’t use that quote out of context).
Step 2:Boxing stance and footwork. Truth is, there is no proper boxing stance and footwork but it sounds good and can intimidate your opponent so pretend there is: lean your body forward about 5 degrees, tuck your elbows to your hips, keep your chin down (to deflect the impact of the opponent egg) and – very important – don’t ever cross your feet! (to ensure maintained balance). Relax and breathe!
Battling head-to-head (Kopf auf Kopf)
Step 3:Head or Butt? Before the competition can begin, opponents must reach a decision if they will attack each other with the head (Kopf auf Kopf) or the Butt (Popsch auf Popsch) of the egg. If no decision can be amicably reached, this can be determined by the trusty old coin toss.
Step 4: Technique. Now we get into math and physics. If you are going head-to-head then you want to attack with the most durable part of your egg – which is the very tip. Eggs are ovid-shaped (and you always thought they were egg-shaped!) and the strongest part of an ovid is its narrow tip so that’s your lethal weapon.
Step 5: Focus and Aim. So if the hardest part of the ovid is the tip, you are going to target your right straight jab to strike your opponent’s egg a bit to the side rather than directly at the tip.
Step 6: Defensive Technique. Don’t leave yourself open. If he or she comes at you directly head-to-head then defend your egg with your thumb and pointer finger. Leave only the very tip of your egg free for attack.
Step 7: Go for the Gold! Throw your jab with a forward step. Great egg boxers have great jabs. The less effort the faster and more powerful you will be.
Battling butt-to-butt (Popsch auf Popsch)
Step 8: Butt to Butt! No one ever accused you of being a bad sport. Once you’ve smeared Charlie head-to-head be an upstanding guy. Offer him a re-match: Butt to butt! And then win that one too.
Step 9:Revel in victory, you champion you. Shake hands, offer your opponent the salt shaker, shine your unbroken egg and tell Charlie it’s not about winning or losing, but how he played the game. Then upload your egg-boxing photos and texts your fans the winning news. Under no circumstances should you accept any egg boxing challenges from Nana. She might act like a sweet old lady and rookie as she sets aside her needle work and innocently lifts her pink-swirled Easter egg but don’t let her fool you. Ladies over 70 are well-known to be ruthless egg boxers with decades of golden egg trophies tucked away in their yarn baskets.
Egg Boxing Over-achievers, Science Geeks and Engineers: There are more methods that can be applied to winning egg boxing but these sadly exceed my understanding. Spannungstrajektorien, for example, which is apparently stress – strain trajectory can be useful but if you can understand the supposed English explaining it, then you shouldn’t be wasting your time egg boxing but maybe inventing the next alternative to fossil-fuel reliant modes of transportation. I suspect it’s a lot of complicated words that simply re-iterate that with the appropriate velocity and angle of your blow aimed at the most vulnerable part of the opponent’s egg, you will be a winner every time. As long as your opponent hasn’t played dirty and armed himself (or herself if you got suckered into battling Nana) with a plaster-filled Easter egg.
Did you find these tips helpful? If so, please share with other aspiring egg boxers and help bring a bit of raw brutality to the Easter festivities and make Egg Boxing the new American Easter tradition.
KC Blau is originally a steel city girl who has resided amongst the cobble-stoned lanes of Vienna, Austria for over 15 years. She is a German-English translator who loves to relate the tales of a bygone era of the fascinating women who lived, loved and struggled (not necessarily in that order) in turn-of-century Vienna.