Intangible Cultural Heritage in Austria

"Anklöpfeln" in the Tyrolean lowlands

Applicant: Joch Weißbacher i. V. Oberauer Anklöpfler
Province: Tyrol

„Anklöpfeln“ (dialect for “to knock”) is a practice cultivated in the Tyrolean lower Inn valley. Here, a group of mostly male singers dress up as shepherds and visit the neighbouring houses on the three Thursdays before Christmas (“knocking nights”). The singers are invited into the homes and strike up several songs to herald the Christmas message of the birth of Jesus Christ.


“Aperschnalzen” in the historic Rupertiwinkel

Applicant: Ing. Ernst Müller, Ehrenobmann Schnalzergruppe Wals
Province: Salzburg

“Aperschnalzen” refers to a more than 200-year-old tradition practised in the Rupertiwinkel which includes several villages on both sides of the border rivers Saalach and Salzach in Bavaria (Germany) and Salzburg (Austria). Between St. Stephen’s Day (26th of December) and Shrove Tuesday, the “Passen” (groups of nine members) crack their whips during their meetings in order to produce a certain beat. In addition to their performances at festive events, they participate in contests at community level and compete for the annual Rupertigau prize.


Mountain fires at the Ehrwalder Talkessel in Tyrol

Applicant: Karlheinz Somweber, Erich Steiner, Martin Senftlechner, Gebhard Schatz, Ehrwald e.V
Province: Tyrol

Every year, the mountain fires at the Ehrwalder Talkessel in Tyrol burn brightly around the summer solstice of June 21. Each participating group chooses a figure that is to be drawn, drafted according to the inclination of ground and built using different types of fuel. These figures, which are always topical and up-to-date, are not revealed before June 21.


Mining culture in Bleiberg

Applicant: Bergmännischer Kulturverein und Marktgemeinde Bad Bleiberg
Province: Carinthia

For centuries, coal mining constituted the economic basis of life for the inhabitants of Bad Bleiberg. Even though the mine in Bad Bleiberg (Carinthia) has been closed since 1992, numerous initiatives try hard to safeguard and transfer the traditions passed down by the “Knappenkultur”: the miners’ language, sloping tunnels, “Knappenspiel” (a form of theatre play performed in mines), “Ledersprung” and the Saint Barbara mass (both in honour of the miners’ patron). Traces of this culture can be found in house and field names, the performing arts and throughout society.


“Bloch-pulling” in Fiss

Applicant: Verein "Blochziehen Fiss": Obmann Christian Kofler, Obmannstellv. Thomas Wachter
Province: Tyrol

The “bloch-pulling” in Fiss (“bloch” is the trunk of a stone pine) belongs to the largest carnival traditions in the Alpine region. It takes place every two years, the “bloch-pulling” of the adults taking turns with the children’s “bloch-pulling” (for six to fourteen-year-olds). At the end of autumn, the fetching of the “Bloch” tree occurs, where a magnificent stone pine is felled, guarded and placed on three sledges two days prior to the carnival procession. On the day of the procession, the participating figures assemble at the village centre and – at the command of the wagoner – the “Bloch” is put into motion by numerous masked persons. Witches and devils (“Schwoaftuifl”) attempt to hamper the moving of the “Bloch”. Playful elements are not only an essential detail, but also serve as entertainment for the spectators. Once the “Bloch” has arrived at the school house, it is then auctioned off.


Rag Procession in Ebensee

Applicant: Johannes Scheck i. V. Verein Ebenseer Fasching
Province: Upper Austria

The annual rag procession in Ebensee is a carnival procession on Shrove Monday in and around Ebensee, whose exact beginning has not yet been identified. The participants, the so-called “rags”, dress up in old women’s clothes with rags sewed onto them. In addition, they wear a "rag hat" as well as an elaborately carved wooden mask.


"Glöcklerlauf" in Ebensee

Applicant: Edi Promberger
Province: Upper Austria

The tradition of the “Glöcklerlauf” on January 5 (a specific type of race where participants carry large decorated caps made of paper on their heads) originated in Ebensee (Upper Austria) and spread throughout the whole Salzkammergut region around the Wolfgangsee (“Lake Wolfgang”) to Styria. Recent decades have shown increased interest in this tradition in large parts of Salzkammergut because the region’s potential as a tourist attraction has officially been acknowledged.


Imst Carnival - "Schemenlaufen"

Applicant: Die Gemeinschaft der Imster Fasnachtler, Obmann Uli Gstrein, Mag. Manfred Thurner
Province: Tyrol

The Imst Carnival (Tyrolian Upperland) is a form of carnival procession with 26 different sorts of masks that takes place every four years.


Carnival Nassereith - “Schellerlaufen“

Applicant: Obmann Spielmann Gerhard im Namen vom Fasnachtskomitee Nassereith für die Gemeinschaft der Nassereither Fasnacht
Province: Tyrol

The Nassereith Carnival, also known as “Schellerlaufen” since 1951, is a carnival tradition that has been taking place every three years in the village of Nassereith in Tyrol on a day between Epiphany (6 January) and Ash Wednesday. The procession forms the heart of the Nassereith Carnival, distinguishing itself through its colourfulness and the typical wooden masks. Part of it is the “Schellerlaufen”, performed according to precise rules that have been passed down from generation to generation together with the know-how involved in making the masks, costumes and other carnival accessories. Its organisation is handled by a carnival committee, first elected in 1923 and serving for s ix years.


Festive Practices of the Citizen and Shooting committees of the district of Murau

Applicant: Obmann Rudolf Paschek für den Bezirksverband der Bürger- und Schützengarden des Bezirkes Murau
Province: Styria

The district of Murau in the Austrian province of Styria assembles five citizen guards and militias whose origins can be traced back to the 17 th century. Several times a year, they participate as ceremonial guards in festive events and religious processions, thereby contributing to the solemnity of each occasion. Due to their traditional connection to the church, the guards sally forth at Corpus Christi and the feast of the community patron saint. They also serve as honour guards for jubilees, weddings and high-ranking visitors. They are characterised by their traditional uniforms, arms and a typical marching order.


The Carrying of the Freiung at the Maxlaun in Niederwölz

Applicant: Mag. Alfred Baltzer und Ing. Rudolf Paschek für den Arbeitskreis Volkskultur Murau
Province: Styria

The procession of the Maxlaun Market revolves around the “Freiung”, symbol of the market privilege. The three-day market is held annually at Niederwölz in the district of Murau on the second weekend of October. Its name is derived from Maximilian, the church patron venerated on 12 October. In his honour citizens organise a parade to carry the “Freiung”, a festively decorated arm carved out of wood, painted black and holding a sword, to the market square along a traditional route. It symbolised the freedom of the market, unrestricted trading rights and public peace through a ban on carrying arms. Nowadays, the mayor chooses the bearer of the symbol who in turn appoints a person charged with ensuring passage through the crowd. The procession is accompanied by the local band and choir, the fire brigade and the men of the mountain rescue service.


Bonfire Sunday

Applicant: Mag. Hanno Platzgummer i.V. Funkenzunft Oberdorf
Province: Vorarlberg

The celebration of Bonfire Sunday (“Funkensonntag“), a holiday on the first Sunday after Ash Wednesday, is commonplace throughout the whole of Vorarlberg. Each community organizes its own bonfire (“Funken”). Vorarlberg’s largest city, Dornbirn, is famous for having several bonfires, which are arranged by a variety of bonfire guilds.


"Perchten" of Gastein

Applicant: Andreas Mühlberger i.V. Verein Gasteiner Perchten
Province: Salzburg

The tradition of the „Perchten“ in Gastein takes us back in time to the historic “carnival runs” during the Renaissance and the Rococo. The “Perchten run” takes place every four years between New Year’s Day and the Epiphany in the region of Bad Gastein and Bad Hofgastein. Amongst the circa 140 different figures that participate in the run, there are around 30 cap wearers (“Kappenträger”) with impressive headdresses, some of which are several meters high. These cap wearers bring blessings and good wishes to the audience by way of short dances and a bow at the command of the “Perchten” captain.


The Gauderfest in Zell am Ziller

Applicant: Tiroler Landestrachtenverband, Obmann Oswald Gredler
Province: Tyrol

Tyrol’s largest spring celebration arose from a “Kirchtag” or country fair. This folk celebration’s name refers to its traditional location, called “Gauderlehen.” The oldest known description of this celebration comes from 1862, although there also exist earlier notes in which reference is made to it. Once-important blood sports such as cow-baiting, cockfights and ram-baiting have by now been abandoned, with the action now centering instead on “Ranggeln” (a form of wrestling native to the Alps), with its contest for the winner’s title of “Hogmoar,” and a parade in traditional costumes. This parade is among Tyrol’s largest and always takes place on the first Sunday in May. At the Gauderfest, special attention is also given to young people: above all, the Saturday directly preceding the Gauderfest gives them the opportunity to show off their dancing abilities.


Confraternity of the Sacred Tomb in Pfunds

Applicant: Heiliggrab-Bruderschaft Pfunds, Prof. Robert Klien
Province: Tyrol

Founded more than 500 years ago, the Holy Grave Fraternity continues to uphold the tradition of setting up the Holy Grave in the Liebfrauen Church at Pfunds on the Saturday before Palm Sunday as well as praying to the Eucharist continuously from Good Friday until Holy Saturday. It is a great honour to become a Brother of the Holy Grave. This privilege is passed on from generation to generation without differentiating between hierarchy, education, social standing or wealth. The Holy Grave Fraternity has always remained independent of the Catholic Church and the local government. It is made up of 12 groups, each consisting of 16 men, which also includes women and the young in their activities.


"Hundstoaranggeln"

Applicant: Salzburger Rangglerverband, Landesobmann Hans Bernsteiner
Province: Salzburg

“Hundstoaranggeln” (a type of physical competition or form of wrestling match) is probably the oldest sport found in the Alps. It has its roots in the 14th century and takes place at the “Hoher Hundstein” in Pinzgau (Salzburg).


"Lichtbratl"-Monday in Bad Ischl

Applicant: Hannes Heide, Bürgermeister der Stadtgemeinde Bad Ischl
Province: Upper Austria

Every year on the Monday after Michaelmas (29 September), the “Lichtbratlmontag” (“Monday of the lighting roast”) is celebrated in Bad Ischl. It derives from an old custom, where the master used to treat his workers to a roast, as artificial lighting had to be used again from that day onwards. Today, this “Lichtbratlmontag” is a festive gathering for all jubilarians from the age of 50 upwards with milestone birthdays, who were either born or reside in Bad Ischl.


“Liebstatt” Sunday in Gmunden

Applicant: Trachtenverein „Traunseer“ Gmunden, Obmann Franz Wolfsgruber
Province: Upper Austria

The origin of this tradition is viewed to lie with the Corpus Christi Brotherhood, which was reestablished in Gmunden in 1641, existed into the 18th century, and had as its mission the enrichment of the town’s religious life. Once each year, on the fourth Sunday in Lent, this brotherhood held a gathering at which a vow to be loyal to the faith and to brotherly love, called the “Liab’státt’n” (confirmation of love), was renewed. Over the course of time, this transformed into a demonstration of love. Today, the “Liebstattsonntag” in Gmunden is still held every year on the fourth Sunday in Lent. Gmunden’s traditional costume associations meet at 9:00 a.m. and proceed as a group to the town parish church. After this, a parade forms with its own band and marches to the square in front of the town hall. Following a brief greeting and an explanation of the tradition, the associations’ members give gifts of decorated gingerbread hearts to the townspeople and guests.


"Mullen" and "Matschgern" in the MARTHA villages

Applicant: Martin Kapferer i.V. Gemeinschaft der Muller und Matschgerer der Stadtteile Mühlau und Arzl bzw. der Dörfer Rum, Thaur und Absam
Province: Tyrol

“Mullen” and “Matschgern” (derives from “mask”/ “to mask”) is a century-old tradition, which is carried out on the night of Shrove Tuesday in the MARTHA villages north of Innsbruck. Each figure has a role allocated, the witches being precursors, other figures like the mirror-“tuxer” simply impressing with their imposing appearance, while others act as constables. The climax of the hustle and bustle is the so-called “Mullen” or “Abmullen”, a form of testimony of honour, where the bearer of the custom chooses a person from the audience to rub his shoulders and give him a little smack on the back.


Carnival run of Murau

Applicant: Mag. Alfred Baltzer und Ing. Rudolf Paschek, i.V. Arbeitskreis Volkskultur Murau
Province: Styria

This exhausting and elaborate procession and “Heische” tradition (a custom of asking for alms) takes place in regular intervals of two to five years on a certain day of the year - typically on Carnival Monday - in several villages in the district of Murau. The equipment of the carnival runners commemorates the former clothing of threshers, while the appearance and the number of carnival runners as well as their accompanying figures show slight regional differences. The participating groups and figures move either by vehicle or by foot from yard to yard and have to overcome obstacles before being allowed to enter. These typically comprise either overcoming a tightened chain (Speng) or accepting a challenge for a duel.


Wine guardian procession in Perchtoldsdorf

Applicant: Christian Neumayer i.V. für die Weinhüter; Franz Distl i.V. für den Weinbauverein der Marktgemeinde Perchtoldsdorf
Province: Lower Austria

The wine guardian procession has remained a constant element of the Perchtoldsdorfer wine growers’ annual traditions, even though the profession of guardian became obsolete and died out in the 1970s.


Guards of the Sacrament in Tyrol

Applicant: Karl Wurzer
Province: Tyrol

The Guards of the Sacrament in Tyrol were founded about 500 years ago based on the Spanish model of the Corpus Christi Confraternities. Their original duty of guarding and honouring the Eucharist at processions still stands. Over the course of their history, Guards of the Sacrament in Tyrol were dissolved several times, yet their tradition was successfully upheld in the villages in Thaur, Hall, Volders and Schwaz. Only at selected ecclesiastical and secular occasions the four Sacramental Guards appear together, dressed in their historical attire and arms. The guards also accompany private ceremonies, such as weddings or funerals, and take on social and cultural duties within their communities.


Shooting clubs in Salzburg

Applicant: Herbert Handlechner i.V. Landesverband der Salzburger Schützen
Province: Salzburg

Shooting clubs are an important component of Salzburg traditions. Even though the actual shooting equipment used differs from place to place (it ranges from traditional wooden weapons to different types of canons or fireworks (“Prangerstutzen”)), club activities are quite constant across different communities.


"Samsontragen" in Lungau and Murau

Applicant: Gauverband der Lungauer Heimat- und Brauchtumsvereinigungen, Gauobmann Eduard Fuchsberger
Province: Salzburg, Styria

In Austria, the tradition of “Samsontragen“ can only be found in Lungau (Salzburg) and in two communities in the adjacent federal province of Styria. These regions, however, consider this tradition, which attracts innumerable guests every year, to be a firm part of their annual rites.


Silent Night - the Christmas carol

Applicant: MMag. Michael Neureiter i.V. Stille-Nacht-Gesellschaft
Province: Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Vorarlberg, Vienna

The song “Silent Night! Holy Night!” was composed in 1818 and has since become a focal point in peoples’ Christmas celebrations, both in the trusted circle of family and friends as well as ecclesiastic festivities, particularly the Christmas Mass. For many, “Silent Night” is the mother of all Christmas carols.


"Schleicherlaufen" in Telfs

Applicant: Fasnachtkomitee Telfs, Obmann Dr. Stephan Opperer
Province: Tyrol

Approximately 500 men participate actively in the “Telfer Schleicherlaufen“ tradition (an event with costumes and dance that centers around Shrove Tuesday); a number of chronicles report that many families have participated in this tradition for generations. The participants (all male) come together every five years to form new groups. Many people in Telf (Tyrol) are in close contact with each other during the preparations for Shrove Tuesday due to creating costumes and piecing together jewelry.


Association for mutual assistance in fire emergencies (“ancillary service”)

Applicant: Verein für gegenseitige Hilfeleistung bei Brandfällen ,Nebenleistung', Obmann Johann Wimmer
Province: Lower Austria

This association is the self-help organization of the community of St. Oswald in the Yspertal (Lower Austria). This association supports the region’s inhabitants either financially or by other means after fire emergencies. In short, the organization is an “ancillary service“.


Tamsweg Union

Applicant: Die Vereinigten zu Tamsweg, Kommissär Dr. Raimund Schiefer
Province: Salzburg

The Tamsweg Union was founded in 1738 by craftsmen from Lungau and has been maintained by workers ever since, thereby making it the oldest existing union in the area around the market town of Tamsweg (Salzburg). Members attend funerals, accompany church processions and hold the “Vereinigtenoktav”, a week-long festival celebrated every year between January 1 and the first Saturday after Ash Wednesday. In addition to members of the Tamsweg Union, members of confraternities from other federal states attend these festivities.


Viennese Coffee House Culture

Applicant: Klub der Wiener Kaffeehausbesitzer, Klubobmann KommR Maximilian K. Platzer
Province: Vienna

The tradition of the Viennese Coffee House Culture goes back to the end of the 17th century and is given distinction to by a very specific atmosphere. Typical for Viennese Coffee Houses are marble tables, on which the coffee is served, Thonet chairs, boxes (loges), newspaper tables and interior design details in the style of Historicism. Guests can choose from the selection of meals and drinks from early morning at 6am until midnight, while sometimes also enjoying readings and musical soirées. The coffee houses are a place “where time and space are consumed, but only the coffee is found on the bill.”


"Niglo"-procession of Windischgarsten

Applicant: Jörg Strohmann i.V. Obmann des Heimat- und Museumsvereins Windischgarsten, beauftragtes Mitglied des Trachtenvereins d’Garstnertaler
Province: Upper Austria

The „Niglo“-procession on the eve of St. Nicholas’ Day (6 December) is a regular annual occurrence during Advent. About 30 persons participate, amongst them the night guard, the “Niglo” husband (a man in urban clothing) and the “Niglo” wife (a young woman in a white dress and a crown), several “Nigeln” (Krampuses with nymphs dressed up in fur, with clamps and rods hanging from their bodies), some angels, the devil, St. Nicholas and several supporting characters.


Firecracker-shooters of Wirling

Applicant: Matthias Plamberger i.V. Verein Traditionsschützen Wirling
Province: Upper Austria

The traditional shooting club of Wirling is probably the only one in Austria which is authorised to carry out the consuetudinary firecracker shooting. The main purpose of the shooters is to participate in religious and secular celebrations, such as weddings, ecclesiastic festivities, processions as well as the shooting on the Twelve Nights after Christmas. The specially-constructed firecracker cannon is placed on higher grounds and, depending on the occasion, fired at exactly the appointed time. Before shooting the next firecracker, it is important to wait until the end of the echo produced by the bang, as this may last up to twelve seconds.