Austria is a landlocked country in central Europe situated in the eastern Alps. The country is made up of nine provinces and the capital Vienna makes one of the provinces. Austria is a top European tourist destination and it is bordered by Czech to the north, Germany to the northwest, Slovakia to the northeast, Italy and Slovenia to the south, Hungary to the east, and Liechtenstein, and Switzerland to the west. The Christmas season in Austria is one of the most common reasons why many people are going to visit.
The festive swirl of sounds, heartwarming sights, and smells of Austria are some of the most exceptional things that you are going to encounter when you travel to this exotic destination. Austria is popularly known for its slow-paced, stop-and-smell strudel features in different locations around the country.
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A Summary of the Christmas Period in Austria
The Christmas period in the country begins early, slows down, and will give you the best experiences possible that you have been looking for in the world. Christmas in Switzerland begins after four weekends with Advent. Advent is a period that indicates the waiting for the arrival of Jesus.
Many families around Austria are fond of Christmas and you will find many people putting on Christmas decorations and celebrating Christmas in the country. The celebration usually begins with the laying or advent Kranz or the advent wreath which is made of spruce and fir.
The wreath is decorated with four candles which are all lit successively on the four Sundays which lead to December 24th. The Christian families in Austria celebrate the Christmas way the traditional way and the Christmas markets are usually very active during this period.
Visiting Austria soon? Make sure to read some of our main resources from Austria:
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- Souvenirs from Vienna
- Vienna in December
You will find the Christkindlmarkt which brings joy and merry across the country. During each Sunday before Christmas, a new candle is lit and people sing Christmas carols, decorate Christmas trees, and bake cookies.
Days to Christmas in Austria
Christmas in Austria is one of the most common festivities that many people celebrate across the country. The pre-Christmas period begins in mid-November in major Austrian cities.
This is a time when the local Christmas markets begin stocking items that are common during the Christmas period. During this time, you will enjoy yourself as you explore the different parts of the country. The doors are mostly open to young people because they love celebrating Christmas.
This is a period where you should enjoy your time because you can see the Austrian traditions firsthand. People open their doors for young ones where they offer fruits that are dipped in chocolate, hot punch, and gingerbread.
The advent wreath is one of the most essential things that come into play during the Christmas period in Austria. During this time, you are going to see the wreath laid in different parts of the state. There are Christmas poems and carols that are sung and recited during this period.
These are usually told and recited on Sundays when the whole family is together. They light the candle which is placed on the advent wreath. In most cases, you will find that Austrian families still make their own wreaths. They also come out together with other neighbors to make this an exceptional event across the country.
In some cases, you will find that many people prefer to make their own Christmas trees. People will go to the forest to get their own fir branches.
Initially, the advent wreath was made up of twenty-four candles. However, it has changed over the years and currently, it has only four candles. Each Sunday before Christmas a candle is lit and this goes on throughout the next weekends until Christmas.
Depending on the region of Austria that you are going to visit, it is essential to note that they come in different colors. Ideally, one candle is supposed to be pink and the three others are violet.
Further reading: Christmas in Lithuania
On the third Sunday or third advent, the pink candle is usually used and it is called Gaudete. This candle has a symbolic meaning because it means that it will prevail over the darkness of life. It can include recitations, singing, and even praying when it is lit.
Austrian advent calendar
It is imperative to understand that the Austrian Christmas advent calendar is one of the most important things that you will need during your travel to Austria. Whether the calendar is self-made or you have a store-bought calendar you must have this calendar throughout the Christmas period.
It is essential to note that one is never too old for one to have an advent calendar in their house. The advent calendar usually means that you will have to open your door from December 1st through the 24th.
Important days during the Christmas period in Austria
There are numerous days that are very important in the Austrian calendar and during your visit to the region you are going to enjoy some of the features that come with these days. Here are some of the most important days that you should note in the advent calendar:
This is the fourth of December and Barbara Day is marked by picking a branch of a cherry or apple tree and taking it to your home. The essence of this idea is to wait for the branch to bloom by Christmas day. In the event that your branch blooms before Christmas day then your family will experience good tidings and good health in the coming year.
In some parts of Austria if the branch blooms before Christmas day, then someone in the family is getting hitched.
Saint Nicholas day
The 6th of December marks Saint Nicholas Day and in Austria, there is a common tradition where children who have been on good behavior throughout the year are usually rewarded with chocolates, nuts, and tangerines. In some cases, the children might receive a visit from Saint Nicholas himself and they can find their presents or gifts in their shoes early in the morning.
Perhaps one of the features that you should know is that Krampus is the companion and the best friend of St. Nicholas. This is a character that has scary horns and big bell marks. On the 6th of December, Krampus bells are often heard around the country. Even from a great distance, you are likely to hear this sound.
In the past Krampus was believed to bring good luck, fruitfulness, and blessings. Currently, Krampus is known to upbraid children who have not behaved well throughout the year. There are Krampus events, parades, and coffee parties in the different parts of the countryside in the country.
Christmas eve in Austria
Christmas Eve is one of the most celebrated days in Austria. On the evening of 24th December, many people gather in their households to celebrate Christmas Eve.
The people in the region usually spend their time decorating the Christmas tree, cooking food for Christmas, and attending Christmas mass.
During this day one window is usually opened for Christkind which allows them to bring presents to the household. In Austria Christkind usually brings presents and it is not Santa Claus.
Christmas carols and poems in Austria
Christmas traditions are taught throughout Austria in local schools and kindergartens. It is imperative to note that these traditions have become more popular across the country. That is the main reason Christmas is more popular across the country.
Many children know the common Christmas carols and poems. Saint Nicholas is celebrated in Austria and during your travel, you are going to witness numerous celebrations around the country.
The poems that were taught in schools are usually recited by the children during the Christmas period. The children are allowed to unpack their presents before they can begin singing their Christmas carols and reciting the poems.
The decoration of the Christmas tree usually varies depending on the region that you are going to visit in Austria. In majority of the places, the Christmas tree is usually fir or spruce.
The tree is decorated by Christmas Eve. The children are allowed to decorate it while they are waiting for Christkind to bring presents.
Depending on the region that you are going to visit, the Christmas tree is decorated on the 24th in the evening or early on the same day. This allows the families to get ready for Christmas carols and poems that they are going to recite and sing.
On an annual basis from Christmas Eve through February 2nd many people across the country ranging from farmers, and nativity scene covers come to life.
During this period, they open their doors to the public to come and see their craft. You will find that different parts of the state observe the nativity scenes. During your travels in Austria, you are going to understand the different aspects that make this feature unique from one state to another.
It is a long Austrian tradition to build and make nativity scenes. In the nativity scenes, you are going to learn about the story of Jesus Christ from his birth to his early childhood. The exhibition is more common in different parts of the country and you can join in exploring the different parts of the state.
Light of peace
The light or peace is usually lit on Christmas Eve and this is in remembrance of the birth of Jesus Christ. It stands for peaceful coexistence.
During this period, they are going to see different Christmas lights lit in different locations across the state.
Christmas dinner in Austria
Many people in Austria usually wait for the highlight of the season and this is the Christmas dinner. The Christmas dinner varies depending on the region that you are going to visit in the country.
It is important to note that Christmas traditions vary from state to state.
In Burgenland, people will choose to eat red cabbage, potato dumplings, and goose.
On the other hand, in areas such as Styria, you will find that people prefer typical Christmas delicacies and cold dishes. Roast is often served on the 25th.
In other areas around the state, you will find a myriad of dishes such as sauerkraut, smoked sausages, and dark bread among others.
The process of bell ringing usually occurs when Christkind has completed his activities in different parts of the state. During this time the Christmas tree is shining splendidly and all the presents are perfectly wrapped.
It is then the time for the signal to be sent to kids that the time has come for them to go and see the Christmas tree.
Christmas presents in Austria
Children and school-going kids across the country of Austria are taught poems, Christmas carols, and other recitals that are presented to the whole family on the 24th.
Many families across the state will gather together and sing together, play music, and enjoy their Christmas meals.
The Christmas mass is usually conducted on the 24th of December. This mass is very important for many people across the country who observe Christmas across the country.
It is one of the largest nocturnal celebrations in the country. In most places across the state, you will find that the mass begins at midnight. Other places have the mass at 10 pm.
Further reading: Christmas in Iceland
In many places across Austria, people follow the Christmas traditions to the letter. Even if you are not religious you are going to feel the Christmas vibe all over.
Christmas and boxing day
In many homes across Austria, people still gather and celebrate on the 25th and 26th. During this period the 26th is often called St. Stephen’s Day and people will cook and mingle with their loved ones.
Further reading: Christmas in Liechtenstein
The last cookies are often consumed during this period. Depending on the time that you are visiting Austria you can check out the different parts of the state for Christmas markets and nativity scenes.
The twelve nights before the Christmas period as called rauhnächte. During this period people will often create complex herbal that are consecrated and this is spread all over their houses.
This practice is very important to many people as they believe that smoking of the house is to fight off evil spirits and bring good luck into the new year.