Folk Customs in Tennengau
Traditions in step with the changing seasons
The people of beautiful Tennengau in SalzburgerLand definitely hold to their folk traditions. In rhythm with the changing seasons, numerous festivals, big and small, are celebrated, including deeply rooted local customs. No matter when you decide to spend your holidays in Tennengau - be sure to visit one of our lovingly organized events, and take special memories of your time spent in Austria back home with you.
CUSTOMS, CHURCH FESTIVALS & FEAST DAYS IN SalzburgerLand
What would Tennengau be without its living traditions and vibrant folk heritage? In December, the children look forward to the arrival of St. Nicholas and simultaneously worry about Krampus, a classic figure from the world of Alpine mythology: Krampus is a fiendish companion of St. Nick, who is said to punish everyone who hasn't been "good" in the past year. In springtime the maypole is raised, then celebrated with traditional local dances such as the Sword Dance in Bad Dürrnberg and the "Jakobitanz" in Puch. And during late summer, during Harvest Festival season, the atmosphere here is truly something special.
From the first weekend in Advent until 6 December, communities throughout the Tennengau Region host so-called "Perchten Läufe", parades you simply have to see! On 5 and 6 December, Nicholas visits local children in their homes and hands out gifts. Be sure to ask your hosts if your children can also participate in the tradition!
It isn't just the children whose eyes gleam with delight at the sight of those beautifully decorated shop windows, streets and various other locations. During a time of year which can become quite hectic in other places, Advent season in Tennengau radiates a sense of peace and reflection. The current Advent folder, with a full listing of all events in Tennengau, is available from your local tourist office.
Until 6 January, the "Three Kings" will also be roaming the region. As part of this ancient tradition, boys and girls go caroling from house to house, delivering the Christmas message about the birth of Jesus along with wishes for peace and blessing. And at the same time, the carolers collect donations to benefit people in the "Third World".
Every year on 6 January, the Three Kings make their way from Lungötz to Annaberg. Mounted on horseback, they perform beautiful Christmas melodies and wish everyone good fortune in the coming year.
Reciting their saying "Glück hinein - Unglück heraus, die Percht kimmt ins Haus", the Perchten figures of the "D' Rabenstoana" heritage group in Golling greet local farming families, then begin a Perchten Dance in front of the farmhouse to the sound of beating drums. This performance was revived true to oral traditions and written accounts in 1996. The focus of the play is an argument between figures representing summer and winter.
Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week. Holy Week is intended to remind us of Christ's suffering until his resurrection. The focal point of Palm Sunday is the blessing of the "Palms", which are generally pussy willows, holly branches, boxwood, juniper, cedar etc. The "Palm Blessing" is generally in association with a ceremony in the church as well as a parade through town. The "Palm Bushes" are then stuck in fields as a symbol of fertility.
In Puch near Hallein, a "Palm Donkey" is drawn along as well. This popular Tennengau holiday village is one of the few places in Austria which has preserved a tradition going back to the Middle Ages involving parades with a wooden Palm donkey, mounted on top of which is Jesus.
Easter. Along with Palm Sunday, Holy Week and the celebration of Christ's resurrection, Easter is a high point of the church year. On Easter Sunday, various foods (including bacon, bread, eggs and salt) are blessed and then eaten at lunchtime before the full meal.
In many communities, on the 1st of May a maypole is raised - a symbol of fertility and vitality - with members of the local community and heritage groups in attendance. Once it has been raised, there is generally a climbing competition, with participants clambering to the very top of the pole to retrieve sausages, small prizes and even banknotes! As you can imagine, this event demands great strength and a head for heights.
Jakobitanz in St. Jakob
Every year, the Jakobischützen in St. Jakob am Thurn invite guests to join them on the last Sunday in July for the traditional Jakobi Fair. After a church service and morning folk gathering in the marquee, the historic dance will take place at 4 p.m. The figures involved in the dance, including "The Tower" and "To the Defenses" depict a legend associated with the Turks being driven out of Salzburg. The dance is accompanied by music performed on flutes and drums.
Dürrnberg Sword Dance
The Sword Dance performed by miners on the Dürrnberg in Hallein is generally regarded as the oldest of Salzburg's traditional guild dances. First chronicled back in 1586, it is still danced exclusively by miners from the salt mine in Hallein, who do so in uniform, sporting a sword and boots. The dance has often changed over the course of time, though it always depicts the different aspects of the miners' work below ground. One reason it is performed at night by torchlight. The Dürrnberg Sword Dance is only performed every four years.
HARVEST FESTIVAL IN SalzburgerLand
During harvest time in SalzburgerLand, 27 communities host Harvest Festival celebrations. And five of those communities are located right here in the Tennengau Region: Abtenau, Annaberg-Lungötz, Bad Vigaun, Kuchl and St. Martin am Tennengebirge. During this period, there is a very special atmosphere in the communities. Traditions, folk customs and ancient crafts are brought back to life , while local specialties are offered for the consumption of guests. How you personally choose to celebrate Harvest Festival is, of course, entirely up to you - be that on a bike pedaling from town to town, or perhaps simply staying in one spot and enjoying all of the special event highlights right there. Whatever your choice, the traditions and folk customs of Tennengau are certain to captivate you.