The traditional Kirchtagsmichl or “Kirschtamichl”, in the dialect of the Val Pusteria valley, dates back to the tradition of the maypole.
On the respective fair days, in many villages of North and East Tyrol as well as in the Val Pusteria valley, the “Kirschtamichl” is set up. It is a maypole with a straw doll, called “Michl” (Mike), attached to its tip. He traditionally wears leather trousers, a shirt and a hat, and holds a Krapfen and a bottle of wine in his hand. At such a “Kirschta” (fair) also the traditional “Kropfn” must not be missed, which this time are not - as usual - sweet, but large, long Krapfen of thin dough with caraway seeds, baked in oil. Also other specialities of the Val Pusteria valley, such as the sweet “Nigilan” or the “Tirschtlan” with cabbage or spinach with curd, are offered and always worth a sin.
Variants of this custom are the maypole in the Bavarian area and the Jacobi Pole in eastern Austria. These customs are connected by a detail: the tree can be stolen from the neighbouring villages - and this must be prevented by guards. Because what would a fair be without the “Kirschtamichl”? After the festival, the doll is removed again and auctioned in some places.
There are several explanations why the doll is called “Michl”: one of them explains that the church festivals mainly take place in autumn and thus the festival of the Archangel Michael has to do with it. Other sources tell that the name indicates the length of the tree: “Michl” means “big” in Middle High German. By the way: the last fair of the year takes place in Casere in the Valle Aurina valley. This village doesn’t place a “Michl” on the the tree, but a female figure, called “Urschl”.