Austrian Holidays


Figure 1.--

The holiday celebration that come to mind most for Austria is Christmas. 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.

Ratschenbuben (????)

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. I'm not sure just when it is celebrated.

Easter (March/April)

Another Austrain religious custom is held was held on Palm Sunday. A donkey was led by the people in a procession to church. On it rode at first a clergy man, but since these animals arenít very tame, it was replaced by a wooden sculpture showing the donkey and Jesus. It was drawn by altar boys that had to be very obeying. It is also said that riding on the donkey will be good for their growth. In some regions the ears could be taken apart and were used as money collector. In other sculptures you could open its stomach and fill it either with bread and goodies, which fall apart during procession. It was first mentioned in 970 in Augsburg and was strongly held during the Middle Ages and Baroque era. The person who made the sculpture hoped that his sins would be forgiven. It was common especially in the South of Germany but also in Netherlands and Belgium and other countries (e.g. Austria, Switzerland, and perhaps elsewhere in Europe). The custom in the 17th century waslargely abolished because it had become out of bounds. Most of the Palmesels were slaughtered by Eselmetzger, that hid up their heads. Fortunately some of them survived and are mostly in Museums now, but there is a place in Bavaria where they still use a living donkey and two in Austria (Thaur near Innsbruck and Puch near Hallein) were they still use a wooden Palmesel in procession.

May Day (May)

May Day in Austria as in Germany ia dual holiday. There is the tradutional May Day celebrated in small towns and villages. This is a kind of spring festival where school children dress up. The girls wear flowers in their hair. Both boys and girls commonly wear folk outfits. Then there is the highly politicized May Day--the international Labor Day. I am not sure when May Day was made a national holiday. This was something Socialists throughout Europe demanded beginning in the late-19th century. Governments often resisted the demand. It did not become an official holiday in Germany until the advent of Hitler. We note that during World War I there was a massive demonsttration in Vienna demanding peace (May 1917). Demonstrators demanded a "settlement without Humiliation of any nation". The Communists and splinter leftist groups march separately. After the Soviets and Allies withdrew the Austrians were able to freely celebrate May Day. The modern May Day demonstrations are dominated by the Social Democrats. Peace is normally a major theme. Interestingly during the Cold War, the Communist Party concept of peace was not offened by the Soviet resort to force to maintain its Eastern European empire. And of course Communist supression of free trade uniojns was never raised. Another issue often raised on May Day in Austria is immigration.

National Day (October)

National Day is celebrated October 26.

Christmas (December)

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.







HBC




Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Austrian pages:
[Main Austrian activities page]
[Austrian school uniforms] [Lederhosen]



Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [Essays] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]



Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing national pages:
[Return to the Main country holiday page]
[Return to the Main Austraian page]
[Australia] [Belgium] [England] [France] [Germany] [Ireland] [Italy] [Japan] [Korea]
[Mexico] [New Zealand] [Scotland] [United States]



Created: 1:48 AM 5/6/2008
Last updated: 1:48 AM 5/6/2008