Austria officially the Republic of Austria is a federal republic and a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The majority of the population speak local Bavarian dialects of German as their native language and German in its standard form is the country’s official language. Other local official languages are Hungarian, Burgenland Croatian, and Slovene.
Christmas Celebrations in Austria :
Austria is a fascinating country to visit at any time of the year. But the weeks from late November to the end of the year hold a special meaning and let you become familiar with some of the most beautiful aspects of the country: deeply-rooted folk traditions come alive in colorful, romantic events. The overwhelming majority of the population of Austria is Christian. Therefore Christmas is the most important holiday for the Austrians.
Advent, the period of preparation for the festival honoring the birth of Christ, begins on a Sunday four weeks before Christmas Eve. This is the day when in living rooms all over the country advent wreaths, woven from evergreen twigs and decorated with ribbons and four candles, are hung or prominently placed. On each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, one more candle on the wreath is lit at dinnertime, many families pray, read Christmas stories or sing carols together.
Christmas Markets are a long-standing and typically Austrian tradition. In Vienna, for instance, the market is held in the large square in front of City Hall. Innsbruck opens its romantic Christmas market in the narrow medieval square at the foot of the Golden Roof. In Salzburg, the Christmas market takes over the square in front of the Cathedral with its picturesque stalls, while the tree vendors occupy Residenzplatz on the side of the huge Cathedral. However almost every small town has its own Christmas market.
The Christmas tree plays a very important part. Every town sets up its own huge tree on the main square all decorated with candles, ornaments and candies and frequently there will be an extra one, adorned with bread crumbs, for the birds. In families the tree is decorated with gold and silver ornaments or stars made our of straw, sweets and candy wrapped in tinfoil, gilded nuts, etc.
On Christmas Eve (December 24th) the tree is lit for the first time and the whole family gathers to sing Christmas carols like “Silent Night, Holy Night” – There is a story told of how Christmas was almost spoiled for the villagers that year. Brass instruments play chorale music room church steeples, and carol singers, carrying blazing torches and a manger from house to house, gather on the church steps.
The feast of St Nicholas marks the beginning of Christmas in Austria. The saint accompanied by the devil asks children for a list of their good and bad deeds. Good children are given sweets, toys and nuts. Gifts that are placed under the tree are opened after dinner on Christmas Eve. Presents are placed under the tree and young children believe that they were brought to them as a reward for good behavior by the Christ Child (Christkind). Austrian Christmas tradition has it that it is the Christ Child himself who decorates the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve and brings the children their Christmas presents, and it is to him that their letters and wish lists are addressed in the weeks before Christmas.
The Christmas Eve dinner is the main event of the night often served with fried carp. The famous sachertorte and different kinds of chocolates are served as dessert. The Austrians also have special crescent shaped cookies served during Christmas time.
Although Christmas is celebrated in all parts of Austria, but still the Christmas Celebrations are better in big cities and towns like Vienna, Graz, Linz, Salzburg, Innsbruck, etc.
In Austria people wish Merry Christmas to each other by saying -
- FROLICHE WEIHNACHTEN!
– FROHE WEIHNACHTEN!
We wish all readers Merry Christmas 2014 & Prosperous New Year !!!