Christmas in Austria is welcomed with great vigor and enthusiasm manifest in everything ranging from the magnificently adorned Christmas tree to a sumptuous dinner. It holds certain unique customs, some introduced by German Protestants and others from Catholic communities. Usually the festival and its celebrations begin from 6th December which is marked by the feast of St. Nicholas. People gather in groups around an open fire place and narrate stories and attend a midnight mass. Dinner usually comprises of goose, ham with "Gluhwein"-a form of mulled wine-and chocolate mousse. "Lebkuchen" and "Sterne" are Christmas cookies that one can look forward to apart from a range of chocolate-based delicacies. If you're looking to have a good meal in Austria, be sure to be there during Christmas; you will not be disappointed. In many ways, Christmas celebrations in Austria are quite familiar to the German celebrations. However, there are a few differences here and there. Read on for more on Austrian Christmas traditions.
Christmas Traditions In Austria
Read about Christmas and its traditions in Austria and Austrian Christmas customs.
Christmas In Austria
- The preparation for Christmas begins four weeks prior to the grand festival. A garland, beautifully arranged using green twigs and decorated with four candles, is made to commemorate the arrival of Christ. Each Sunday, a candle is lit and families get together and spend generous time on prayers, singing songs and sharing Christmas stories.
- During Christmas, people head to traditional Austrian Christmas markets which are present in almost every single town, large or small. Vienna, Austria’s capital, conducts around 25 markets along with small huts to provide shoppers with presents, food and, the soul of the festival, sweet wines. Other stands provide decorations, art and craft, toys and jewelry etc.
- Christmas gifts are placed under the Christmas tree and are opened after dinner on the eve of Christmas. In Austria, people are not familiar with the concept of Santa Claus; instead, children are made to believe that the gifts were bought by the “Kristkindl” or Christ Child. Children believe that the “Christ Child” gives them gifts because of their good deeds. The arrival of gifts is announced by the tinkling of the bell that ascertains the arrival of “Christ Child” in the room where the Christmas tree is kept decorated.
- ‘Silent Night’, the popular Christmas carol, originated in Austria in the early 19th century, on 24th December 1818 to be precise. Apparently, Father Joseph Mohr was in the church for the Christmas Eve celebrations and he realized that the church organ had broken down. However, since Christmas could not be imagined without a carol, father Mohr created a song and sang it with the accompaniment of guitar, played by Franz Xaver Gruber. This carol has been translated into 44 languages since then.
- A traditional Austrian Christmas dinner includes “Gebackenerkarpfen” or fried carp, “Sachertorte” or the chocolate and apricot cake, chocolate frosting served along with Christmas cookies.
- On Christmas Eve, families living in the mountains descend to the valley, while singing all the way down. This has been a tradition for quite some time now.
Thus, Christmas is truly a festival that involves exquisite features of togetherness, celebration, joy and faith all over the world