Customs as Celebrated by the Austrians

Pagan Perchten ©brennuskrux/flickr

Pagan Perchten

Neujahrsschiessen, the New Year’s Salute, is the time when you can see the squads of historical rifle associations, all in traditional costumes. Lined up in rows and they shoot with the 17th century style guns that is ever so worthy of a look. You will get to see the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra play the ‘Neujahrskonzert’. Five days after, Glockler are seen walking from door to door in Salzkammergut. They are star singers dressen as the three kings. What they basically did was announcing the birth of Jesus. On every house, they left a mark. This tradition is also known as the ‘Gloecklerlaufen’ in the alpine regions.

Pagan Perchten

She meant to protect the good people of the spirits. She also punishes the not-so-good ones. Basically, she keeps the people under control, this is one of the ancient beliefs. Young men dress up as evil spirits, to banish Frau Perchta companions, these men are so called the Perchten. The other practice is the protective smoking of the cattle, the house and the food stocks. Smoking is done by burning a certain kind of herbs. They also practice this around the winter solstice as a kind of protection. While doing this is believed to awake the spirits of the New Year, they too believed it is supposed to rest in the soil underneath the snow. In painted wooden masks that are devilish looking, it has tusks, teeth, horns resembling at times bears, wolves or eagles that meant to pierce into the souls of haunted people. Horse or cow tails are carried around like whips. Key point is they have no ears, in such manner, no screams of victims can be heard.

Charming Customs in Tyrol, Salzburg & Salzkammergut

Schönperchten © Kristoffersonschach/flickr


Pretty Perchta or “Schönperchten” is the charming version of the abovementioned. It delivers luck and happiness for the brand new year. Tresterer, Beak Perchta from Rauris, Wild Chase from Untersberg region and Glockler from Ausseerland. Ausseerland region has about five thousand residents, the most urban being Bad Aussee and it is within Styrian of Salzkammergut. They are not entirely female like the devilish version, hence, you can find male or female wearing white flower ornaments, little bells, small mirrors. Whether performing a dance, delivering blessings from house to house, you can see them stomping on the grounds like a dance, to aware the seeds in the soil, to awake Spring!

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