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Muttertag: How does Austria celebrate Mother’s Day?

Like many other countries, Austrian Mother's Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May - but the country adds its spin to the holiday.

flowers painting
Flowers and handmade gifts are common presents for Mother's Day (Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash)

Mother’s Day is a celebration honouring mothers and maternal bonds, very much connected to women’s movements all over the world. In many countries, including Austria, the date is celebrated on the second Sunday of May, when mothers can expect to receive presents and breakfast in bed.

Not all countries celebrate the date on the same day, though. In Norway, for example, Mother’s Day falls on the second Sunday of February, while Ireland and the United Kingdom celebrate Mothering Sunday on the fourth Sunday in Lent – which was March 27th this year.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What you need to know about parental leave in Austria

Other countries, including Spain and Portugal, celebrate it on the first Sunday of May. Still, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland actually introduced the holiday on the same day as the first celebration in the United States – where the “modern version” of the date began in 1907.

When did Austria start celebrating Mother’s Day?

Muttertag was first introduced in Austria in 1924 after an initiative by women’s rights activist Marianne Hainisch.

Born near Vienna in 1839, she was a well-educated woman who defended women’s rights to proper education. Hainisch famously wrote the article On the Education of Women, calling for the City of Vienna to start school classes for girls. She created classrooms for girls with private funds, which was recognised by the city of Vienna in 1981.

Her efforts continued, and she campaigned for women to be allowed to attend higher education and became a leader in the suffrage movement in Austria.

Finally, she became one of the Austrian Women’s Party founders in 1912. In 1920, her son, Michael Hainisch, became the first President of Austria after the end of the first World War and the fall of the monarchy.

How do Austrians celebrate it?

The celebrations may seem familiar to many people around the world. Small children will prepare handmade presents for their moms in kindergartens or learn sweet songs to sing to them on Sunday.

Families will prepare breakfast in bed for the mother and give her chocolate and flowers.

READ ALSO: 26C: Summery weather for Austria after rainy weekend

However, flowers are almost a mandatory present on many holidays, including Mother’s Day in Austria. There is a reason why flower shops were considered “essential shops” during lockdowns and allowed to stay open.

While in some countries celebrations might take place with just a small present or chocolate, Austrians will very likely bring flowers to their mothers (as they do on Valentine’s Day, Women’s Day, and many other celebrations and birthdays).

Additionally, Austria’s love of nature and culture also shines on this date. It’s common for people to spend the Sunday days – especially since the celebration falls in mid-spring – out and about.

READ ALSO: Why Vienna is a haven for wild animals – and where you can find them

Families will take the day to go with the mothers hiking around towns or for a walk in a park. The alpine country is also famous for its cultural offers. Mother’s Day is an excellent opportunity to take moms out for the theatre or other cultural events.

Every family has its own tradition, though, as the idea is to spend the date celebrating mothers the way they’d prefer.

The commercial side of it

Like in much of the world, companies have hijacked the date, of course. Starting about one week before Mother’s Day – sometimes as early as a month, companies in Austria will start advertising products, discounts, and offers.

Since it falls on a Sunday, most of the stores and shops will be closed on the date, even though it is not a bank holiday in Austria.

READ ALSO: Why everything in Austria is closed on Sundays – and what to do instead

However, the idea is to introduce offers for presents bought beforehand, usually typical and cliche things.

Restaurants and bars, which do stay open on Sundays, will have special menus and discounts for families.

Useful vocabulary: different ways to wish a happy Mother’s Day in German

Alles Liebe zum Muttertag
Einen fröhlichen Muttertag
Alles Gute zum Muttertag

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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

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.

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