intangible cultural heritage


area : Steirisches Vulkanland
category : social practices
Traditions are an expression of our identity. They give man rhythm and transmit cultural values with which we identify.
Customs and tradition have become closely interwoven over the centuries. Traditions always have been and still are a tradition, and contribute to our common culture. The older generation in particular deliberately maintains tradition. This high importance is in many ways reflected in the connection between faith and tradition. It is also retained to a certain degree by superstition – just think of the countless weather and rural related proverbs.
Every season brings with it different customs. In the winter months, schnapps is burned, wood is felled at the right time and Advent is commemorated with great intensity – the event itself is rich with its own customs: Advent wreaths, Saint Nicolas visits our families, Barborky – cherry sprigs – are cut, in many places the search for a place at the inn is played out in the village community, with communal music-making and singing. Christmas and Boxing Day are particularly festive days which are held in the highest esteem.
Then we are visited by the New Year’s celebrations, children beat us healthy with the custom of “frisch und g’sund Schlagen”, and carol singers. Finally, Carnival with its Sauschädl ball, Fleischbettler and parades ends with the start of the forty-day fast of Lent.
The Easter week with palm broom-making, ratchet-ringing on Good Friday, while on Easter Saturday the “Holy Fire bearers” march from house to house, lighting countless bonfires after the Mass of the Resurrection. Eggs are painted and dyed, and the children hide the gifts from the Easter bunny. The arrival of the month of May sees richly decorative spruce garlanded all about. The May poles are followed by the May prayers, during which the people meet in the village chapels after work – an important community aspect of positive work. The course of the year sees Mother’s Day, St Florian’s Day and Pentecost celebrations (such as the straw men or the Pfingstluckn). Father’s Day in June and the festive Corpus Christi procession take place when the light is strongest. The Solstice and St John’s fire commemorate particular days whose special qualities were recognised well before the Christian era. The summer months mark the time during which one puts one heart and soul into work, and a number of customs associated with this have developed. As autumn approaches, the harvest festival gives thanks for the wealth of crops. With All Hallows’ and All Souls’ Days, the Lantern festival in the Kindergartens and St Martin’s Day, the year once again returns to Advent. The family altar changes its decorations over the major festivals, and illustrates the passage of the year in every home.
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