SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

EASTER

How to celebrate Easter like an Austrian

From cakes in the shape of a baby lamb to 'Green Thursday', Easter in Austria can feel a little different. Here's your guide to the festivities.

Easter egg decorations
ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP

Easter traditions begin in Austria in the weeks leading up to the big day, as shops and bakeries start to fill up with seasonal goods such as Osterpinzen (a kind of sweet bread roll), Schinken im Brotteig (ham in a bread crust), colourful hardboiled eggs and cakes in the shape of a baby lamb (Osterlamm). 

Here are some examples of what the Osterlamm might look like – and one of a pretty sad looking little lamb. 

For those unsure why a lamb-shaped cake should take centre stage this time of year, here is a brief explanation of its history and purpose during Easter time.

As well as looking cute, delighting children, and tasting nice, Osterlamm has a serious side.

There are lots of different Osterlamm recipes available online – most requiring a lamb-shaped cake form – but the ready-made version is also easy to pick up from certain shops in Austria.

The following link breaks down the Osterlamm and at least tries to answer why it is so important for Austrians. 

READ MORE: ‘Osterlamm’ and what it means to Austria

Decorations

Many people decorate their homes with an Easter centrepiece arrangements of Palmkätzchen (also known as Palmbuschen, Palmkatzln, Palmkatzerl or pussy willow in English) and decorated wooden eggs, though some people add other foliage to the decoration. 

Palmsonntag (Palm Sunday) is celebrated in Austria by the blessing of Palmkätzchen rather than palms.

An Austrian folk custom says that if you bury these blessed Palmkätzchen, they protect your fields from bad weather during the year.

Green Thursday

Maundy Thursday follows or Gründonnerstag (Green Thursday), as it is known in Austria. It is traditional to eat spinach and other green foods such as kale, herbs or salads on this day, hence the name.

On this day in much of Austria and also in Catholic areas of Germany it is said the church bells fall silent and “fly to Rome”, so children are tasked with making a noise with wooden rattles to announce the times of day and call for church services.

READ MORE: What does Gründonnerstag mean in Austria?

In some parts of Austria, groups of boys walk from house to house with baskets and their ratchets to collect eggs.

Good Friday

Karfreitag (Good Friday) is not really celebrated by Catholics and is no longer a public holiday for Protestants living in Austria.

Easter fires

The most elaborate Easter rituals in Austria are said to be in Styria and Carinthia, where   on the Saturday before Easter (Holy Saturday or Karsamstag) it is common to have a bonfire or Osterfeuer outside together with family and friends.

However, due to the coronavirus pandemic this year, there will be restrictions on traditional Easter bonfires. In Carinthia they will only be allowed in public between 6am and 8pm in Carinthia.

The number of participants will also be limited.

Traditional Easter bonfires will be restricted this year in Austria. Image: AFP

Easter Sunday

On Easter Sunday in Austria, children enjoy Easter egg hunts and a large Saturday dinner and/or Sunday breakfast with ham, coloured eggs, Osterpinzen bread and special cakes. Church bells ring out, having returned from Rome.

A popular game is Eierpecken (egg pecking), in which people bang coloured eggs together until they break. Then the winner has to eat the eggs. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

LIVING IN AUSTRIA

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about retiring in Austria

Retiring to Austria to spend time in fresh alpine air is a dream for many people, but who is actually eligible to retire to the Alpine Republic? Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about retiring in Austria

People from all over the world can retire to Austria, but unlike some other European countries, Austria does not have a residence permit tailored to retirees.

This means anyone wanting to retire to Austria has to go through the standard immigration channels, with different rules for EU and non-EU citizens.

Here’s what you need to know about retirement in Austria and who is eligible to retire in the Alpine Republic.

FOR MEMBERS: How can British second home owners spend more than 90 days in Austria?

What are the rules for retiring to Austria as an EU citizen?

The process for citizens from EU and EEA countries to retire in Austria is relatively simple due to freedom of movement across the bloc.

There are a few rules though.

To stay in the Austria for longer than three months, retirees will need to be able to support themselves financially (e.g. through a pension) and have sufficient health insurance.

When it comes to accessing a pension from another EU member state, this is typically taken care of by an insurance provider in Austria who will deal with the approval process between the states. Access to public healthcare in Austria is also available to all EU/EEA citizens.

Currently the pension age in Austria is 60 for women and 65 for men. More information about pensions in Austria can be found on the European Commission website.

FOR MEMBERS: Five reasons to retire in Austria

What are the rules for retiring to Austria as a non-EU citizen?

The most popular visa route for non-EU retirees hoping to live out their golden years in the Austrian Alps or the grandeur of Vienna is to apply for a settlement permit

This is issued to people that do not intend to work in Austria and is referred to as “except gainful employment” (Niederlassungsbewilligung – ausgenommen Erwerbstätigkeit) by Austrian immigration.

To qualify for the settlement permit, applicants must prove they have sufficient funds, comprehensive health insurance and a place to live.

Proof of sufficient funds means applicants must have a regular monthly income from a pension, profits from enterprises abroad, income from assets, savings or company shares. 

The minimum amount is €1,030.49 for a single person, or €1,625.71 for married couples or those in a partnership. 

READ ALSO: Baking away solitude: Vienna cafe hopes to unite world’s grandmas

Third-country nationals also have to provide evidence of basic German language skills at Level A1, in line with the Common European Framework of References for Languages. The diploma must be no older than one year when submitted with the application.

However, the application process will be entirely in German so for people that don’t have advanced German language skills, it’s best to hire an English-speaking immigration lawyer.

Additionally, Austria has a social security agreement with several non-EU states, including the UK, Canada and the USA. This allows some people to access their pension directly from Austria, depending on the agreement.

Again, it can be useful to find an English-speaking advisor to help with the bureaucratic part of accessing a pension in Austria if you don’t have strong German language skills.

After five years of living in Austria with a settlement permit, visa holders can then apply for permanent residence.

Want information on pensions? Then check out the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How does the Austrian pension system work?

Useful vocabulary

Retirement – Ruhestand

Pension – Rente

Social insurance – Sozialversicherung

Health insurance – Krankenkasse

Settlement permit – Niederlassungsbewilligung

SHOW COMMENTS