March in Austria is full of religious events and traditions. The fasting period begins in the Roman Catholic Church on Ash Wednesday. In 2016 this is celebrated on February 10th, and takes 40 days. It ends on Holy Saturday, which is on the 26th of March this year. Originally people abstained from eating meat and sweets, but nowadays only a part of the Austrian population fasts. Also the objects of abstinence have adapted so that we can find different kinds of fasting today. Some people don't eat meat or sweets or don't drink alcohol, some don't go out during these 40 days and others don't check their Facebook account. You don't have to worry if you don't want to participate in this tradition. Nobody will be offended if you eat or drink as usual.



Liebstattsonntag, a typical holiday in Upper Austria, will be on the 6th March this year. This day has its origin in the 17th century when the Corpus Christi Brotherhood brought food to the poor population on the 3rd Sunday in the fasting period. Over the years the tradition has changed and today “lebkuchen” hearts are given to loved people. This tradition is not known in all parts of Upper Austira - it can mainly be found around the Traunsee, in Hallstatt, Bad Goisern and other communities in Salzkammergut.



Palm Sunday, celebrated on 20th of March this year, marks the beginning of the Holy Week and the Easter holidays in all Austrian schools. Christians celebrate on this day the entry of Jesus riding a donkey into Jerusalem where people welcomed him by throwing palm leaves and clothes onto the street. In commemoration of this event in Austria processions are made on this day and palms are sanctified. These Palms are the symbol for life, victory and resurrection. In Upper Austria such a palm traditionally consists of seven to nine different plants. For your palm you need birch, box, yew, oak, erica, hazelnut, cherry tree, catkin, daphne, holly, thuja, juniper and cedar. Bind them together with colorful ribbons and, depending on your region, fix them to the end of long sticks. After these palms have been sanctified during the mass, Austrians place them in special places in their houses, as they are said to protect the houses from harm.




The previously mentioned Holy Week following Palm Sunday is in Catholicism the week of mourning, where people commemorate the suffering and the death of Jesus Christ. Although it is called Holy Week, only Thursday, Friday and Saturday of this week have are called Holy Days and have special meanings. Thursday is called Holy Thursday. On this day we celebrate the Last Supper. In German this day is called "Gründonnerstag", which means "green Thursday". On this day people traditionally eat spinach. Good Friday is the day when people think of the crucifixion of Jesus. In every community in the afternoon, ideally at three o'clock, in a limited mass the Passion of Jesus is celebrated. During this ceremony the different Stations of the Cross are played in the church. Good Friday is the strictest day of fasting. Also many canteens serve only vegetarian food on this day. The last day of the Holy Week is Holy Saturday. On this day Jesus Christ's body lying in the tomb is commemorated. Good Friday and Holy Saturday are the only days in the whole year where no Holy Masses are celebrated, on these days masses are only held in a limited way. The Holy Week is also called the Silent Week. In Upper Austria no Bells will ring from the spire between Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday. It is said that the bells fly to Rome during this time. Instead of the bells Easter rattles will sound through the streets. Children with rattles walk  through the streets reciting rattle spells, telling people about the passion of Jesus and inviting people to pray. These children are happy to receive sweets and small donations for their service.