Austria Custom and Traditions

By | January 5, 2022

According to topschoolsintheusa, the traditional costume is worn almost only for celebrations. In the side valleys the men had, until recently, short jackets of brown or gray loden with a red cloth on the chest, while in the major valleys long jackets and leather shoes have penetrated up to the knee. In addition to pointed hats, large hats are worn, as on this side of the Brenner Pass; to the light green Wallenstein. The female costume generally features a large ruched bodice that once closed over the breast (Walsertal, Pinzgau). An apron is never missing. The women of the Bregenz forest still wear a long dress in shiny and pleated black canvas, absolutely medieval in style.

Ancient popular festive customs are the Easter rides led by a priest on horseback, those that are held in honor of St. Leonard in the Tyrol and Salzburg area, the Corpus Domini feasts and the summer processions for the countryside (15 August); also worth mentioning are the historical feasts of the shooters, the strange grandiose procession of Samson in Lungau (Salzburg) and the dramatic performances. The very old text of a witch drama is preserved in the Pinzgau, which goes back to Hans Sachs and a drama about Faust near Prettau. Carnival masks often embody the spirits of the woods and wild men of popular imagination in Tyrol, all kinds of demons and infernal animals in Salzburg.

In the wooded mountains of central Austria (Styria and Carinthia) there is still a lot of work in the woods, so the loggers live together for weeks in simple huts covered with tree bark. In the iron-rich regions of Upper Carinthia (Maltatal) and throughout Upper Styria, as in ancient times, there is still the small forge operation for smaller agricultural household goods. Mountain farms generally consist of a group of buildings (houses, stables, granaries, linen dryers) which in Carinthia, towards the Styrian border, are often built on three sides. Typical is the log construction (Blockbau) with or without masonry plinth. The dwelling house, probably derived from an old one-room type,, in which the oven is located near the open firebox with a large chimney hood. Smoke originally came out of a row of overhead windows or passed through an opening in a wooden chimney in the atrium. Rooms with terra cotta stoves are of recent date. Similar heated environments describes the Italian doctor Savonarola in the century. XIV also for the Trentini, Feltrini and Friulani and he also mentions the bathrooms with fireplaces, used in the winter, which were then often transformed into homes. However, Geramb believes that the Rauchstube has Slavic origin.

Household goods and minor furnishings were originally often completely made of wood, many objects, as they still are, finely carved (cutting boards, cones, molds for butter). Wooden crosses are hung above the table to eat, while numerous small crosses are planted on the pastures which are renewed every Easter. Even the earthenware dishes have an ancient shape especially in Carinthia (black-colored dishes), where the manufacture of linen home linen is also in use, while in Styria the country production of loden (sheep’s wool cloth) is widespread..

Folk customs throughout the year are similar to those of the western provinces, although, for example, the masquerades are less artistic. In Carinthia there is a very old custom, when harvesting flax, that children imitate the voices of animals hidden in the woods. Near Saxenburg lives the tradition, which is linked to an old Germanic rite, of a holy man, who was carried to his grave by a pair of oxen through the receding waters of the Drava and who is invoked for rain and for the protection of fodder. Another costume, which has the same purpose and consists of a night torchlight procession, represents an ancient Roman motif (use of evergreens and boxwood). Even the use of bundles of palm trees, olive branches, carob trees, oranges, for ornamentation, betray southern contacts in Carinthia. In the so-called low country on the Mur and the Drava, instead of scattered hamlets and villages, regularly aligned villages and narrow villages on roads appear. Here the stone building dominates and the more civilized life is also manifested in the layout of the house. In the Gail valley the costume shows ancient Slavic influences and similarly the colorful embroidery of the household linen.

In the pre-Alpine region and in the wooded regions north of the Danube, together with more intensive livestock farming, as in the Bavarian motherland, the settlement of isolated houses regularly built in stone or brick and covered with a thatched roof prevails. The furniture was once richly painted everywhere. The artistic stove-making and the rustic earthenware industry had numerous factories from Salzburg to Lower Austria. Now only residues are encountered.

The local custom has been replaced by the new styles that came from the Salzkammergut, which is still a center of artistic activity for wood carving, as well as for music, dance and folk poetry. Only in the lowlands of Lower Austria and Burgenland do you arrive in an area rich in vineyards and cereals and cultivated with orchards and vegetable gardens. The villages are as a rule by road in the manner of Franconia and central Germany. In certain districts, particularly devastated in the past by warlike raids, the villages are instead far from the roads and present themselves with a tight line of granaries suitable for being placed in a state of defense, while the population itself had even dug special shelters in the löss of the region.

The architecture often shows traces of city influence (courtyard arches, doors, stucco ornaments). Even the costume, for a century now, has conformed to city fashion.

A strong feeling of commonality pervades this country life, through its youth societies which among other things regulate the traditional dances of the festivals (harvest festival) and through kinships; so that the processing of flax, the gathering of wood, the gathering of corn are also preferred. Besides the raising of the Maypole, the solemn processions along the borders of the estates and along the rivers, solemn processions are held in some wine-growing districts with the blessing of the vintage crops (wreaths, goat-shaped trestles adorned with fruit, etc.) and even weddings are often celebrated with ancient customs (interception of the street during the wedding procession, at the beginning of the festive dances the bride climbs onto the table, mute masks appear at midnight, etc.).

In all the peoples of Austria there is a lively inclination to the serene joy of singing; no popular festival is celebrated without songs and dances, in which, among other things, the mating song of the grouse is imitated or, holding ribbons attached to the end of a pole, one turns dancing around it. In the song the counter-time and the shouts of alpine calls and the warbling (jodeln) play an important part. In the Danube countries and in Carinthia it is often sung with several voices.

Austria Custom