Six unique traditions that Austrians love to love

A recent study about Austrians confirmed how much Austrians truly value their traditions.

Six unique traditions that Austrians love to love
Bad Kleinkirchheim/Flickr

The International Institute for Market and Social Analysis (IMAS) published results of a survey that shows many Austrians see traditions as very important.

The study concluded that nine out of ten Austrians think that protecting Austrian traditions and keeping them alive is vital.

Furthermore, more than half believe that it is very important that traditions are taught in kindergartens, schools and to immigrants.

Traditions linked to Christmas, New Years, Mother’s Day and Easter are most commonly maintained by Austrians. Many of the traditions have strong ties to the Christian faith.

There are also a few unusual ones, which may take non-Austrians living in the country by surprise if they are not forewarned.

1. Easter Egg battle (‘Eierpecken’)

Image source: Superbass/ wikimedia

A common Easter tradition in Austria is the Easter egg battle during the family Easter breakfast or brunch. Coloured hard-boiled eggs are served along with a cake in the shape of a lamb. Before people at the table eat their eggs, a battle ensues.

Each player holds their egg with the tip pointing up and prepares for battle. The first player to start hits another egg tip with his own egg, with the goal of breaking the shell of the other egg.

The winner then goes around the table and tries his luck with the other players. The winner of the battle is whoever is left with an egg that is still intact.

2. Autumn Cow train (‘Almabtried’)

Image source: Bad Kleinkirchheim/Flickr

This event is held annually in the Alpine regions in Austria. Every summer, around 500,000 cows in Austria are led high up into the mountains so they can feed on pastures in the Alps.
Around October, there is usually one specific day where all the cows are brought down in the form of a cow train from the mountain to the stables in the valley.
Many of the cows are decorated and the cow train is celebrated with music and dance, if there were no accidents on the mountain during the summer. Each cow is returned to their owner once the cows get back into the valley. These days it has evolved into a festival-like event in most alpine towns where artisan and agricultural products are sold.

3. First day of school cone (Schultüte)

Image source: Pixabay

An Austrian tradition, with roots in German history, is the cone of goodies handed to children on the first day of school. When six-year-olds start school for the first time, usually in first grade, they are given a big cardboard cone. Either parents or grandparents are tasked with giving the child a decorated cone filled with candy, toys and school supplies.

Originally the cone would be brought to the school and it would be hung up on a cone tree marked with their name. Kids would be told a story that at school a tree is growing with cones and when it is ripe, the kids are old enough and need to go to school.

This is supposed to make the first day of school, which can often be a stressful time for a child, a little more fun.

4. Stealing the Bride (‘Brautraub’)

Image source: peteandcharlotte/Flickr

Stealing the bride is a very old Austrian tradition when it comes to weddings. The tradition is seen as both entertaining but also has the symbolic meaning that the bride is leaving her family home and starting a whole new portion of her life with her husband.

Friends of the bride and groom interrupt the wedding by crashing the party to kidnap or steal the bride. For a certain amount of time no one at the wedding should notice that the bride has gone missing, so the kidnappings are elaborately planned out.

The kidnappers then take the bride and go from bar to bar in the local area, buying drinks along the way. Then the groom has to go find the bride. Once the groom finds his bride, he needs to pay a ransom to get her back; this usually involves him buying a round of drinks.

5. Lead pouring, Molybdomancy (‘Bleigießen’)

Image source: Micha L. Rieser/ wikimedia 

This is a very common New Years tradition in Austria and if you are in Austria during this time you will see stands selling the equipment needed for it everywhere next to stalls filled with tiny pigs in various forms. Pieces of tin are sold along with a metal spoon.

On New Year’s Day, each member of the family melts their piece of tin using a stove or lighter and then once it is melted pours it into a tub of cold water. The resulting shape of the tin is then interpreted as an omen for the future, especially the upcoming year.

A huge part of the fun is doing this with your family and spending the whole time arguing about what shape the melted tin has become and what it could possibly mean for the upcoming year. 

6.  Scary mask processions (‘Perchtenlaufen’ or ‘Krampuslauf’)

Image source: Wald1siedel/ wikimedia

This Austrian custom is common in the Alpine regions around December or the beginning of January. Locals dressed up as the wicked beast, Krampus or as ‘Perchten’, wild pagan spirits of Germanic folklore exhibit their costumes in a procession.

The costumes are usually very frightening or at least very ugly. Originally ‘Krampus’ was the horrible goat-like creature that followed St. Nicholas and punished bad children, while ‘Perchten’ were spirits who would march through town and ring bells, in order to ward off the cold winter.

In recent years, however the two processions and traditions have largely combined into one main event and are usually major tourist attractions.

Written by: Helena Uhl

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How to dispose of unwanted furniture or whitegoods in Vienna legally

Got an unwanted mattress, fridge, or sofa? Here’s how you can legally get it off your hands in Vienna.

How to dispose of unwanted furniture or whitegoods in Vienna legally

If you find yourself with a large piece of furniture or big household appliance that has seen its prime and is not bound to the trashcan, then you might be wondering where to dispose of them – legally, that is.

Even if it is not uncommon to see furniture or appliances next to the big trashcans often placed near households and apartment complexes, it is illegal to leave them there.

Different cities have different methods – some will even pick up trash at specific times and places. To know how your city deals with bulky waste (Sperrmüll), you can google “Sperrmüll + the name of your city”.

READ ALSO: Why does Vienna’s waste department have a helicopter and a military plane?

Vienna has several waste collection points where you can leave bulky waste, electrical appliances, hazardous waste (in household quantities) and other old goods for no charge.

The use of the Wiener Mistplätze is subject to certain quantity limits and requirements, but they are to avoid industrial use. Therefore, most households will have no problem with the limitations.

Here you can find several collection points in Vienna.

It is worth pointing out that delivery to those sites can only be made by cars with Viennese license plates, on foot or by bicycle. Furthermore, no trailers or company cars are allowed to leave trash at these collection points.

What can you bring to the collection centres?

This is the place to bring large sheets of plastic foil, bulky or large metal parts and electrical appliances, for example.

Additionally, you can bring small amounts of bulky waste, wood, styrofoam, large cardboard boxes, green waste and used tires to any waste collection centres.

Depending on what you are disposing of, you might need to go to the Rinter centre, one of the larger ones.

READ ALSO: Hasta la mista, baby? How to vote for your favourite Vienna trash can joke

The centres also have a separate division where it is possible to donate old items still in good condition, the so-called 48er-Tandler-Box.

Tableware, small furniture, electrical appliances, clothes, toys and other items can be reused and bought at a low price at the 48er-Tandler reuse shop.

Most centres are open only from Monday to Friday during business hours, but others are also available on Saturdays.

What to do if I don’t have a car?

If you don’t need a car but still need to dispose of a large appliance, the Viennese solution varies.

Some will take public transport with a couple of friends trying to help them carry an old sofa via the u-bahn, although that can get a little tough at peak hour. 

Alternatively, you can borrow or rent a vehicle to try and save costs.

READ ALSO: The downsides of Vienna you should be aware of before moving there

But Vienna City also has a service that will pick up the trash for a low fee – even if it is located in the attic, a basement or a courtyard.

It’s the Entrümpelungsdienst und Sperrmüllabfuhr der MA 48. You can also ask for the “dump service” when the city of Vienna brings a trough (the smallest can fit 12 cubic meters).

Once you fill it up, they will remove it and take it to the appropriate place.

Costs will depend on the amount of trash, the size of the appliance, and where in the household it is located.