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Christmas traditions
in
Austria
Advent
Christians believe that
the season of Advent
serves a dual reminder of
the original waiting that
was done by the Hebrews
for the birth of their
Messiah as well as the
waiting that Christians
today endure for the
second coming of Christ
A sign of Advent in
Austria is the Advent
wreath. This is a
Christian tradition that
symbolizes the passage
of the four weeks before
Christmas. There are four
candles on it. On every
Sunday one more candle
is lit.
Usually women create
their wreaths
themselves. Even
children –boys as well
as girls – like to do it.
These photos were taken
in our school on 27th Nov., 2009
In our school it has become
a tradition to bind wreaths
and afterwards the priest
comes to sanctify them. It’s
a ceremony in which we
pray and sing songs
together.
Advent calendar
The progression of the season for
children (at the age of 4-14) is
marked with an Advent calendar, a
practice introduced by German
Lutherans .
The Advent calendar is made of
cardboard or a textile and there
are 24 “doors” with chocolate or
other sweets inside. So children
open up one “door” a day and
they always look forward to the
24th “door” which normally is
the biggest of all.
In some towns Austrians
celebrate St. Nicholas
Day each year on
December 6th with a
parade in which the Saint
is accompanied by an evil
monster, called
“Krampus”.
In some parts of Austria,
“Saint Nicholas Eve” is
also known as “Krampus
Day”.
Teenagers take the opportunity to
dress up as Krampus to come
along. Others gather with their
parents to watch the arrival of
Saint Nicholas and Krampus, a
creature who hits naughty
children slightly with a whip.
The devilish Krampus usually
arrives rattling chains, drapped in
furs and covered with a scary
mask with horns, big teeth and a
long tongue.
His name comes from the old
German word "krampen,"
meaning claw. Krampus
traditionally carries a basket on
his back in which he puts children
who behave badly.
Saint Nicholas comes along with the
Krampus. He visits families in their houses.
He represents the good and brings presents
for the children, for example nuts, peanuts,
chocolate, gingerbread, oranges and sweets.
Christmas Eve is on December 24th.The little
children aren’t allowed to see the “gift giving
room” during the entire day to give the
• Christmas eve is on
“Christkind”
a chance to grace the tree.
December 24th.The
little children aren’t
allowed to see the
“gift giving room”
during the entire day
to give the
“Christkind” a chance
to grace the tree.
In the evening
before the feast, the
gift giving begins.
The Christmas bell
rings and this is the
signal that
everything is ready.
Then the candles on
the Christmas tree
are lit and especially
little children are
fascinated by the
sight of it.
First the family
pray and then
“Silent Night” is
sung.
At the same
time
“Wunderkerzen
(sparkling
candles) are
burnt.
Finally the gifts
are opened.
Late in the
evening there is
a church
service called
“Mette”.
It’s a Christian
tradition to
celebrate the
birth of Christ.
The world’s most famous Christmas song, “Silent
Night,” comes from Austria. Called “Stille Nacht” in its
original German, this beautiful Christmas carol is now
sung and enjoyed around the world in hundreds of
languages.
On a cold Christmas Eve in 1818 pastor Joseph Franz Mohr (17921848) walked the three kilometres from his home in the Austrian village
Oberndorf near Salzburg to visit his friend Franz Xaver Gruber (17871863). Mohr brought with him a poem he had written two years earlier. He
desperately needed a carol for the Christmas Eve midnight mass that was
only hours away.
1. Stille Nacht! Heil'ge Nacht!
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute heilige Paar.
Holder Knab' im lockigten Haar,
|: Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh! :|
2. Stille Nacht! Heil'ge Nacht!
Gottes Sohn, o wie lacht
Lieb' aus deinem göttlichen Mund,
Da uns schlägt die rettende Stund'.
|: Jesus in deiner Geburt! :|
One of the many amazing things about
this carol is that Franz Gruber composed
the “Stille Nacht” melody for Mohr in just a
few hours on that December 24th, 1818.
Every Christmas Eve there is also a traditional
Christmas meal: carp, goose, or turkey, nut
bread, and many different cookies for dessert.
The most important one is “Gingerbread”.
“Frisch und g’sund” is on
Dec. the 28th. The
children go from house to
house and say a poem,
and they come with a
bunch of birch lop and hit
adults slightly while
saying the poem. The
poem is said to bring
good luck for the new
year and the children get
money.
Single musicians or a
group come to every
house and play with
bugles, flutes, drums
and other instruments.
One of them goes into
the house and wishes
the family all the best
for the new year. Of
course they get money
and some snacks.
It has long been a Philharmonic tradition at the New
Year to present a program consisting of the lively and at
the same time nostalgic music from the vast repertoire of
the Johann Strauss family and its contemporaries. These
concerts not only delight the audiences in Vienna, but
also enjoy great international popularity through the
world wide television broadcasts, which now reach over
50 countries.
It is the desire of the Philharmonic not only to provide
musically definitive interpretations of masterworks, but at
the same time, as musical ambassadors of Austria, to
send people all over the world a New Year's greeting in
the spirit of hope, friendship and peace.
In the evening people usually eat a very nice
meal and cookies or sandwiches. At midnight
they shoot lots of fireworks into the sky.
Then they drink “Sekt” or “champagne” and
dance (particularly the “Wienerwalzer”) and give
each other lucky charms, for example a little pig,
clover, a small chimney sweep, bulks, horse
shoes, ladybirds or mushrooms.
On January the 6th the
Three Holy Kings Caspar,
Melchior, and Balthazar
appear in St.Peter as well
as in all other villages and
towns of Austria. They are
not real kings and not really
holy, but they are kids from
the region. They dress up as
kings, go from house to
house and collect money
for the people in poor
countries.
They all have a different complexion. Caspar’s is red,
Melchior’s is yellow and Balthazar’s is black.
In each house they sing at least three songs, for
example “The Star of Bethlehem”. And they give incense
to each family. When they leave the house they write
with a piece of chalk the letters C+M+B on the door. This
should bring luck to the house and the family.
Christmas traditions
in
Austria
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