In Germany May 1st is one of three federal holidays that is not a religious one. The other two would be New Years Day on January 1st and German Unity Day on October 3rd. While May 1st being known as Labor Day, the night before on April 30th, also has a special and completely unrelated connotation in Germany and Austria. The following is mostly taken from Wikipedia and adjusted for this page:
“The maypole (or Maibaum) is a tradition going back to the 16th century. It is a decorated tree or tree trunk that is usually erected either on 1 May – in Baden and Swabia – or on the evening before, for example, in East Frisia. In most areas, especially in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Austria, it is usual to have a ceremony to erect the maypole on the village green. The custom of combining it with a village or town fete, that usually takes place on 30 April, 1 May or at Pentecost (Withsun), is widespread. This tradition is especially strong in the villages of the Bavarian Alps where the raising of the traditional maypole on 1 May in the village square is a cause for much celebration. The pole is usually painted in the Bavarian colours of white and blue and decorated with emblems depicting local crafts and industry.
If the tree is erected on the eve of 1 May, then the event is usually followed by a May dance or Tanz in den Mai (literally ‘dance into may’). Depending on local custom, the Maibaum may remain in place until the end of the month and is then taken down, decorations removed and the trunk stored until the following year. In many parts of Bavaria it remains in place all year round.”
Whenever I do a guided walking tour in Cologne a day or two after May 1st, people from far away countries like for example the United States, Canada or Australia, see birches decorated with colored ribbons throughout the city, that are attached to certain houses. When they ask me, what the significance of this is, I explain that on the night of the last day of April, many young men (Junggesellen = bachelors) put small decorated “Maibäume” (= may trees) in front of the houses of their sweethearts. Some may attach a red heart with the name of the (usually) young lady written on it to the tree. In rural areas outside of Cologne, those young men may even put a trail of gravel from their house to the house of the sweetheart, so that the young lady can trace the way to her (hopefully) then to be lover.
I guess not all Germans are as cold and devoid of feelings after all (as the stereotype may suggest).