May Day probably conjures up images of maypole dancing and village fetes, but here in Luxembourg May is marked by numerous public holidays, the making of May wreaths (meekranz) and the traditional pilgrimage; the Octave.
Meekranz: May Wreaths (May 1st)
On the 1st of May you may see hoards of people, organised by local associations, heading into the forest and then, surprisingly, heading out with branches and leaves in hand. The Luxembourgers use these leaves and branches to weave and make simple Meekranz (May wreaths). These are then hung on houses above the doorways to bring in the summer. So don’t complain about the weather; instead take a basket and head out to the forest on May 1st to do your part!
Octave (May 7th-22nd)
The Octave is a traditional pilgrimage and the most auspicious religious celebration in our calendar. It takes place from the 3rd Sunday after Easter until the procession to mark its finish on the 5th Sunday after Easter. Throughout this period in Place Guillaume and Place de la Constitution there will be the Oktavmäertchen, a market set up with little souevenirs and food stalls prepared to feed the tens of thousands of hungry pilgrims as they make their way to Luxembourg City. In years past many people would walk from all over Luxembourg, nowadays they are more likely to take other transportation. People have made this pilgrimage since 1666, when the Virgin Mary was declared the patroness of Luxembourg City, to honour the Virgin Mary.