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Legend

The so-called Count of May (in Estonian: Maikrahv) festivals were held in medieval Tallinn to celebrate springtime, youth and happiness. The festivals dedicated to the Count of May as the symbol of spring signified the victory of spring over winter. Organised at first by the Merchant Guild and later by the Brotherhood of Blackheads, the festival was held during the week of Whitsuntide, also known as Pentecost, and lasted the whole week. On Monday, there was a festive feast and on Tuesday morning, a fancy procession made its way out of town to the oak forest of Kopli. This was the place where a tournament was held for young men to compete in riding and shooting. The overall winner was granted the title of "Count of May" and crowned with a birch wreath. Then the new Count of May had the honour of choosing a Countess of May from among eight lovely maidens in a rose garden in front of the Great Coast Gate (Suur Rannavärav). In addition to the right of choosing the Countess of May, the Count of May was entitled to grant liberty to a prisoner that day. On Thursday, the festival crowd rode around the town in procession and on Sunday, there was another feast and a ball. The Count of May treated his attending ladies and torch holders to a delicious meal and offered 30 marks for the feast. The title of "Count of May" was granted for one year. It was customary that on the Whitsuntide the Count of May and his attendants rode out of town to have fun. On some other church holidays, he and the blackheads participated in processions where they held huge candles, the so-called Count of May lights. The Count of May festivals were held in Tallinn from the 13th to 16th century. Nowadays, the tradition of choosing the Count and Countess of May is revived each year during the Old Town Days. The Maikrahv restaurant hopes to contribute to the wider introduction of this old festival tradition.

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