Christmas in Austria

The Christmas season in Austria starts with the Advent Christian tradition.

It kicks off on a Sunday four weeks prior to Christmas Eve. Living rooms are adorned with advent wreaths containing four candles, ribbons, evergreens and Christmas balls. Usually, the advent wreath is set on the living room table or it is hung in a very prominent place. Every Sunday, one new candle is lighted. It also comes with an extra candle which is lighted during Christmas dinner. At this time, the family gathers around the wreath, singing Christmas songs and listening to stories about the holidays.

What’s Christmas in Austria without the famous Christmas markets? In the country’s capital in Vienna, the market is set in a very large square fronting the City Hall. The tradition actually started in 1298 with practically every town and city has its own Christmas market version. For instance, the one in Innsbruck is done at the Golden Roof while Salzburg has theirs in the square fronting the Cathedral. You will find picturesque stalls and tree vendors laying out their goodies by the Cathedral’s side in Residenzplatz.

The Christmas tree is a very important feature in Austria. Every town square has a huge tree which is decorated with bread crumbs which also serve as treats for the birds. Similarly, most households also have their own Christmas trees which are all laden with colorful Christmas decors such as silver and gold balls, stars, sweets and candies in tin foils.

Normally most shops close at 6pm during Christmas eve. Theaters and cinemas are also closed for the holidays. Typically a family day, most restaurants pubs and bars are also closed. Traffic is almost not existent. Sometime during the night at 7pm, the rest of the family gathers as the tree is lighted for the first time. Christmas carols are sang most especially “Silent Night, Holy Night”. After all, this Christmas Carol is something that every Austrian should be proud of because it was written by two very talented Austrians, Josef Mohr and Franz Gruber. It was first sang and performed in December 24, 1818.

Christmas in Austria is truly for children. Gifts are placed under the Christmas tree and children believe that these presents were given to them by the Christ Child as a reward for good behavior. According tot an Austrian legend, the Christ Child is the one who decorates the Christmas tree and brings gifts to children on Christmas eve. Children address their letters, wishes and requests to the Christ Child before Christmas.

Leave a Comment

XHTML: You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>