The Advent and Christmas season enchants us anew every year and lets us see the world through the shining eyes of children. Part of this magic is the rich traditions that allow us to experience this time in a special way.

We all love decorating our houses and apartments during the Advent and Christmas season. Whether traditional with fir branches and straw stars or a little more colorful and with lots of lights. Almost every household has an Advent wreath or Advent calendar.

Other traditions, such as the cutting of St. Barbara’s branches on December 4, are less common. Branches are cut from cherry trees and placed in the house. If they start to bloom by Christmas, legend has it that a wedding is in the offing.

Shaggy fellows and St. Nicholas

Around the 5. & December 6, strange figures make the streets unsafe. With their bells tied around their hips, they can be heard from afar. Dressed in fur with huge horns on their heads and horrible grimaces, legend has it that they look for bad children to carry them away in a basket.

The “Krampus” can only be appeased by St. Nicholas. He rewards the good children and gives them a bag of sweets, fruit and nuts.

For a long time it was traditional for St. Nicholas and Krampus to visit every house, but today there are Krampus parades in many places. The Krampus groups, called “Passen”, proudly wear their self-carved masks and not only instill respect in the children with their frightening appearance.

Sweet delicacies to snack on

Traditions are always closely linked to culinary delights and this is also the case during Advent. Baking Christmas cookies fills the whole house with wonderful aromas. Every family has its own favorite cookies and recipes. Whether gingerbread, vanilla crescents, cinnamon stars or coconut biscuits – decorated with nuts, sprinkles or chocolate icing, they sweeten the Christmas season.

In addition to Christmas cookies, it is a tradition in many regions of Austria to bake a so-called “Kletzenbrot”. Kletzen” refers to dried fruit such as pears or apples. Together with chopped nuts and flour, they are formed into a loaf and baked. Kletzenbrot is very nutritious and lasts a long time, and in earlier times was a welcome treat in the barren winter months.

Health and blessings for the whole year

Christmas has traditionally always been a time to pray for health and well-being throughout the year. In many regions of Austria, especially in rural areas, this is still done today, the so-called “going smoking”.

To do this, small pieces of wood with the last embers are removed from the fire and placed in a “Rauchpfandl”. Incense or dried herbs are placed on top, creating a strong smoke. With the Rauchpfandl you now go from room to room to arm all the rooms and their inhabitants against illness and disaster.

For personal health and above all to prevent headaches, a hat is held alternately over the smoker’s head and over the head three times.