Austrian Boys' Clothes: Activities


Figure 1.--This postcard was postally used in Austria during 1913. The boy is playing a mandolin. I believe that he is susposed to depict a gypsy child. The message on the card reads, "Herzliche Gruesse an alle Deine Lieben, bes.an Dich von Anna ......Seulter(?)." I can't read the last name very well. The abbreviation bes. stands for "besonders" (especially). So in English it is: Heartfelt greetings to all your loved ones, especially to you (yourself) from Anna ..........

HBC has collected information on a variety of activities in which German boys have participated in over time. Many of these activiities involve specialized costumes. Other images show trends in German boys' clothing over time. Some of the activities include choir, choir, dance, games, religious observation, school, sport, and many other activities.

Choirs

Many countries of Western and Central Europe have a long tradition of church boys' choirs dating back to the medevil era. The Austro-Hungarian Empire (before 1918) and Austria (after 1918) was one of those countries. The Austrian choirs were associated with the Catholic Church. The most famous Austriann choir was the Vienna Choir Boys which it one of the oldest, if not the oldest boys' choir in operation today. It ios the prototype of the modern choir. It was formerly created at the turnnof the 16th century from the singers at the royal palace. Until 1918 served as the oficial choir for the Emperor's chappel. It is today one of the icons of modern Austria. The Vienna Choir Boys, however, are not Austria's only choir.

Dance

We know very little about dance in Austria. We expect there may be folk dancing comparablr to thant in Bavaria and the rest of southern Germany. Austria is renowned for ballroom dancing, but we are unsure to how much boys participare in this. We do note some Austrian boys involved in ballet.

Holidays

The holiday celebration that come to mind most for Austria is Christmas, but we little other specific information at this time. We do note the Ratschenbuben is a primarily German tradition dating from the 12th century. It was also observed in Austria and in German communities in Sitzerland. One HBC reader tells us that "Ratschenbuben" is an Autrian word meaning "rattle playing boys", a word that is unknown in Germany. Easter and especially Palm Sunday is an important event in largely Catholic Austria. Christmas is undoubtedly the most important holiday in Austria. As in other European nations, December 6th is the day Saint Nicholas, the giver of gifts, makes his rounds. Arrayed in a glittering Bishops robe and accompanied by his devilish assistant, Knecht Rupnecht, he can occasionally be seen roaming the streets giving sweets and apples to good children while his companion playfully beckons "little sinners" to feel the string of his golden rod. In Austria, there is no Santa Claus. Children are taught that their presents have been brought by the "Kristkindl," a olden-haired baby with wings, who symbolizes the new born Christ. The story tells how the Christ child comes down from heaven on Christmas Eve and, with his band of angels, decorates and distributes trees. Christmas in Austria is a very musical time. Many of the world's greatest carols came from here. December 6 is the day when St. Nicholas and his grotesque assistant, Krampus, may pay a visit. But the gifts are brought on Christmas Eve by the Christkind. Sometimes the Christkind will even help decorate the Christmas tree before the big Christmas Eve supper, which will probably feature carp as a main course. Dinner on Christmas Day will be roast goose with all the trimmings.

Music

Austria has a long and prestigious musical tradition. Austria has been referred to as the "Musikland" of Europe. The Austrian musical tradition is unrivaled in Europe. Many think of mysic when Austria comes to mind. There are the waltzes of Johann Strauss Jr., the operas of Gluck and Mozart, the symphonies of Beethoven, Haydn, Schubert, Brahms, Mahler and Bruckner. Actually only Schubert of all the famous composers identified with the Vienna city was actually born there. These other great composers came to Vienna because it was a center for music, especially since the 17th century. Many great composers settled in Vienna, like Beethoven, Brahms and Gluck from Germany and many others from the Austrian provinces. But also composers, who created music in a lighter vein, went to live and work in the Austrian capital: Franz Lehar ("The Merry Widow") from Hungary, Emmerich Kalman and Leo Fall who were born in Budapest, Franz von Suppe from Dalmatia and Richard Strauss, who only lived a short time in Vienna, but wrote the very Viennese opera "Der Rosenkavalier". One of the greatest child prodigies in Western mysic, Mozart, was Austrian. Austria's glowing tradition of music is well known. Music was supported by the Habsburg Imperial regime. The court supported musicians, but at times stifeled creativity. The Habsburg monarchy ended in 1918 at the end of World War I. There was a creative explosion of music during the inter-war era. There also were two famous gypsy orchestras during the inter-War period after World War I: Barnabas von Geczy and Georges Boulanger ( a Rumanian gipsy with a French name). This creative period was ended by the NAZIs in 1938 with the Anschluss. Creative musicians that were Jewish had their work labeled "Entartete Musik"--degenerate music. Men like Bruno Granichstädten had to leave Austria. The gypsys also were targeted. The Von Trapp family fled for political reasons. Today in Austria, operas and concerts are staged throughout the year. Vienna is the location of the largest number of musical events such as the Musikverein (home of the Vienna Philharmonic) and the State Opera. There are many other important events from the Bregenz Opera Festival in the far west of Austria to the Haydn concerts in Burgenland, near the Hungarian border. One of the world's great music festivals takes place each summer in Mozart's birthplace, Salzburg. There is also a wonderful tradition of folk music. Austrian children appear to have been traditionally more exposed to music than children in most other children. There is the country's long tradition of classical music, but it is also a fact that every town and village in Austria has a choir and a "Blaskapelle" (brass band). Young boys and now also girls are encouraged to participate in these bands. When performing they all wear costumes (Trachten) or uniforms. Many Austrian families often play music at home and make "Hausmusik" (home music) together, typical Alpine melodies, usually with a cither, flute, guitar, harp or cello and an accordeon and singing as well. Of course the Von Trapps were just such a family.

Religion

Austria has an extensive religious history. Religion is deeply etrenched in Austrian history and played a major role in European history. With the Reformation, Europe was engulfhed in terrible religious wars. Austria was the center of the Catholic Counter Reformation. Austria is primarily associated with the Roman Catholic church, but the coutry's religious history is much more diverse. While Catholics predominate, over tume a spirit of toleration has developed. Austria since he early-Medieval era has been mosly Catholic. Most Austrians are Roman Catholic. The 1971 Census indicated ovr 87 percent. Austria has been affected by the secular trends that have affected all of Europe. The 1991 Census indicated that the percentage of Catholics had declined to 78 percent. The number of Protestants aklso declined. One of Austria's most important minorities were the Jews. There were about 0.2 million Jews in Austria, primarily concentrated in Vienna. Tragically, the NAZIs destroyed Austria's Jewish minority in the Holocaust. Austrians are still mostly Catholics. Many are culturally Catholic, but do not actively practice. Boys of course dress up to go to church. Often new suits are bought for First Communion, Confirmation, and Firmung.

School Uniform

Austrian boys like German boys did not wear school uniforms, except fpr a small number of boys who went to military schools. The boys simply wore their ordinary clothes. Younger boys at the turn of the century often wore the popular sailor suit. Older boys wore various styles of suits, usually without the Eton collars that were so popular in England. Sailor suits became less popular in the 1930s, especially after the Anschlus in 1937. Interestingly after the Anschlus, school children were one of the few groups that did not wear uniforms. Although boys and girls often wore their Hitler Youth uniforms to school. Boys also common wore lederhosen, although these durable leather shorts declined in popularity in the 1960s as jeans became increasingly popular.

Sports

Soccer is the most popular sport in Austria, as in the case for the rest of Europe. The sports picture is dominated by soccer. Many European boys, including Austrian boys, are happy to play soccer all year round. There is some interest in ice hockey during the winter. The Europeans do not have seasonal team sports like Americans. We are not sure when boys begn playing soccer in Austria. We first notice images after World war I in the inter-war era. Winter sports like skiing and skating are very popular in Austria. A German reader tlls us that there is an Austrian style of wrestling known as Rangeln. Rules are similar to Olympic Gamess or U.S. colleges, but "holds can be taken on the clothes and rangglers wear a tough canvas shirt and cotton trousers, which make spectacular throws easier." There are competitions at Hundstein. A variant of it is called Hosenlupfen (trousers wrestling) Since 1947 the Salzburger Ranglerverband was founded that standardised the rules." Modern Ranggeln bouts last 6 minutes. There are no points, only a fall counts and a rolling fall or to bridge is counted as a fall. Submission holds and strangles are forbidden and there are no draws; a drawn bout eliminates both competitors. Therefore bouts are fast and furious since the wrestlers must gain a pin to survive into the next round. " It is thought to be an accient competition held by the Celts to honour Lugh. Caesar wanted rangeln held only for him and the Christians didn't like it either.

Youth Groups

Quite a few youth organizations have been active in Austria over time. We have little information on Austria at this time. The story here is rather complicated because of all the political changes that Austria has undergone. The principal groups seem to have been Wanger Vogel, the Boy Scouts, anf the Hitler Youth. The Hitler Youth was organized as a unofficial group until the Anschluss, but then became the German Hitler Youth as Austria was absorbed into the wider German Reich. There have also been a range of other smaller groups. The garments worn by Austrian youth groups seem similar to those worn in other countries, especially Germany. One noticeable trend in austria is that Lederhosen were partocularly popular and ogten worn with youth hroup uniforms.






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Created: 1:24 AM 5/6/2008
Last updated: 12:08 AM 2/26/2012