January

 
The three wise men & Caroling

The majority of the Austrian population are Christians, therefore there are many Christian bank holidays. (Statistik Austria, 2007) One of these is the 6th of January, which is the day of "Heilige Drei Könige" (the three wise men). Until the fourth century Christmas was celebrated on this day. After that the Roman Church adopted the date of December the 25th. In Austria Christmas celebrations continue until the 6th of January. This date is considered the date of the arrival of the Three Kings in Bethlehem. The kings were called König Balthasar, König Melchior and König Caspar. To this day, children from the Roman Catholic Church dress up as these kings and go from house to house, wish all the best for the New Year, carol and collect money for charity projects. This tradition is called "Sternsingen". They also write with chalk the initials C + M + B on the front door. This is Latin and stands for "Christus mansionem benedicat" and means Christ bless this house. (Hannam & Williams, 2014)

 
Glöcklerlauf

On the 5th of January, the day before the "Three wise men" there is a tradition from the end of the 19th century. It is called "Glöcklerlauf" and began in Upper Austria in the region of Ebensee. It spread out to Salzkammergut and the area around Lake Wolfgang and south to Styria. People wear white clothes with large hats up to 2.5 meter wide and 1.5 meter high made out of a wooden frame. This frame is decorated with special black paper. People craft special patterns with scissors in it and glue colourful paper to the back. The hat is lit up from the inside and from the outside you can see special, colourful patterns showing stars, flowers, Christmas and local motifs. These wonderful hats can weigh up to 15 kilograms. The "Glöckler", which we call the man who wears the hat, literally means the guy with the bell because they also wear bells.

The pagans' belief says that these "Glöckler" bring the light into the darkness and they conquer the dark and cold. The bad spirits should go away and the good spirits should come with the ringing of their bells. Whilst walking in the snowy fields, they should even try to wake up the corn and bring it to grow under the snow. (Volkskultur Oberösterreich)

Today people do more to focus on the aesthetical beauty of the hats. Tourists come to see groups of people wearing these hats and walking in the beautiful snow covered surroundings of small Upper Austrian towns. In 2010 this social practice become part of UNESCO as part of intangible cultural heritage in Austria. (Immaterielle Kulturerbe / Österreichische UNESCO-Kommission, e.V. Wien, 2010)

 

Skiing

Austria is well known for skiing. The Austrians love to ski. 56% of the population (age 0-70 years) go skiing in the winter. (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft, Familie und Jugend, 2010). They even go several times in the winter season. The beautiful mountains in Upper Austria are great to get some fresh air and see a stunning panorama. There are seven ski areas in Upper Austria from Dachstein West to Kasberg and Wurzeralm. Everyone can find the perfect slopes for their preferred level of skiing. Enjoy the winter and have fun on the slopes and in the traditional ski huts.

 

                                                                              (c) OÖTourismus_Erber/2013_Dachstein West