December - The advent season in (Upper) Austria

Welcome to the last month of the year and maybe also the most important one, if we think about tradition and religion in (Upper) Austria. December is also the most enjoyable and delightful month for the young and the young at heart in the whole year. You are now asking why? There is a long list of reasons for this.

This special month starts the advent season. This season is characterized by lots of events, smells, lights and of course songs. In every family you will find a so called "Adventkranz". This wreath is made of branches with 4 candles on it. These candles symbolize the time until Christmas Eve arrives. So every Sunday an additional candle is lit. So don't be surprised if all the lights in the houses are switched off and you only see the light glow of beautiful candle lights in the windows.

On the 6th of December Saint Nicholas is coming with little presents for all the good kids. He is accompanied by his assistant "Krampus". Krampus is the complete opposite of Saint Nicholas, a very rude creature which punishes all the disobedient kids. You want more information about Krampus and Saint Nickolas? Then Christoph Waltz, maybe the most successful Austrian actor at the moment, will explain it to you in this short and funny video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbkGuCozc9M

This month also has culinary highlights for everyone. In every city, no matter how big or small, you will find a Christmas market. Here you can taste typical punch or hot wine, eat a lot of sweets like gingerbread, fruit bread or Christmas cookies and buy typical hand-crafted products. Christmas markets all have special flairs, but there are of course some special ones in Upper Austria like at Lake St. Wolfgang, and at Christkindl in Steyr. Both Christmas markets are well known for still being very traditional.

The following tradition is not for everyone's nerves and a little bit creepy. In many regions the so called "Perchtenlauf" is compulsory. So what is that all about? Perchten are like Krampus. People wear very scary masks, bells and lights to chase away the evil. It's kind of a spectacle but as I already said ā€“ very creepy.

On the 24th of December Christmas is almost here ā€“ Christmas trees are decorated, the manger is put below the tree and the last Christmas cookies are baked before the Christ Child is coming. Yes, you read correctly! In Austria we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and not Santa Claus, who is coming to town.

In families with smaller children (when they still believe in the Christ Child), the kids are not allowed to see the Christmas tree before the Christ Child brought the presents. To signalize that the Christ Child was here a little bell rings and you can see the excitement on the faces of the children when they are allowed to enter the room.

A typical Christmas meal in Austria is sausages with sauerkraut, which is served after unpacking the presents and singing songs under the Christmas tree.

snowman 
happy new year  This special month ends with New Year's Eve, which is celebrated on the 31st of December. At midnight there are fireworks everywhere and everyone is celebrating with a glass of champagne. What is typical for Austria is that all the people are dancing waltz to The Blue Danube.