Christmas in Austria

Adventkranz - Adventwreathlinzer-christkindlmarkt-det.jpg

 Written by Mary Heigl

Christmastime in Austria is very beautiful. Christmastime also includes the advent season which lasts four weeks at the most. Advent season is the time of waiting – waiting for Christmas, for which the symbol is an advent wreath. It is a wreath made from spruce. In the wreath you put four candles. Every week on Saturday or Sunday you are allowed to light a candle. On Christmas there are four candles which are lit. 

 Towns, shops and shopping centres are also decorated with Christmas lights. In the advent season there are many Christmas Markets. There you can buy self made things, such as Christmas decoration. Hot drinks such as mulled wine, glogg and mulled must are very popular in Austria. Tea is also offered. You can have tea with lemon, schnapps or rum.

A Christmas museum offers children as well as adults the opportunity to join in on the Christmas time. A trip with the Christmas train shows you how the angels help the “Christkind” arrange everything for Christmas Day and how the people celebrate Christmas in the different countries. You can also see Christmas decorations from the past and present and many other Christmas decoration.

On 24th of December is Christmas Day in Austria. The shops close at midday and then it gets calm in the whole town. Every family is at home and arranges everything for the evening. The symbol for Christmas, the Christmas tree, gets decorated with Christmas baubles, candles, hair of angels, sweets and so on.

 The “Weihnachtskrippe”, which illustrates the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, also gets a place in the house.The presents get in gift -wrapped. Then mother puts it under the Christmas tree. Now nobody is allowed to go in the room where the Christmas tree is.  Parents with very young children are very exciting, because the children believe in the Christkind who arrange the Christmas Day. They put the Christmas tree in a room, for example the living room, and close the door. The parents tell the children, that they are not allowed to go in because the “Christkind” works in the living room and arranges all the gifts and decorations for the evening. Most children become curious and try to peek through the keyhole. Children in Austria cannot wait for the Christmas evening.  In the afternoon, near 4 o’clock, a matins for children takes place in the local church. Many families go there to celebrate the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Children sing traditional Christmas songs. For example: “Alle Jahre wieder” or “Ihr Kinderlein kommet”.

The priest reads Christmas poems and sometimes children perform in a herdsman play.When the matins finish, the people light the candles in their lantern with the light of peace, which is in every church of Austria and comes from Bethlehem. Then they go home. At 6o’lock in the evening we light the holy night candle. It burns from 6 o’clock in the evening until 6 o’clock in the morning.

 Now it is time for Christmas evening. Altogether we sit around the table, light some candle and pray the rosary. The next custom follows the rosary. In a special pan, we put some hot carbon or hot blaze. On the carbon or blaze we put some frankincense. It smells very good. Then we go in every room in the house, also in the stall, if you live on a farm, and dedicate every room with the fume and holy water. 

In families with young children, the parents ring a small bell to symbolise, that the “Christkind” is not far away.Then the door of the room, with the decorated Christmas tree, and the gifts opens. The candles are lit and it creates a great mood. The family stands in front of the Christmas tree and sings Austria’s most popular Christmas song “Stille Nacht Heilige Nacht”.  Then the Christmas dinner follows. In Austria there is not a special one. The food is different from family to family. After eating, children and the other members of the family get their gifts. 

 The Christmas evening ends with the matins for the elder ones at 11 o’clock at night. It also takes place in church. Some people hike with lanterns to church from their home. The midnight matins is a very celebratory mass. There are all people from all over town.


1 Comment »

  1. 1

    So cool! Never knew that! I am writing a report on Austria for Christmas, and this website really helped me! Thanks!

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