We might be heading towards the final season of the year, but there are still several national public holidays to enjoy in Austria before 2022 is over.
Here’s what you need to know.
Austrian National Day
The next big public holiday in Austria is the country’s National Day on Wednesday October 26th.
It was on this day in 1955 that Austria signed its so-called Declaration of Perpetual Neutrality, although the date has only been a public holiday since 1965.
The Declaration marked the end of the Allied occupation in Austria by British, American, French and Soviet Union forces, who had controlled the country since the end of World War II in 1945.
On Austrian National Day, the Federal President usually addresses the nation on TV, as well as honouring the victims of the war resistance and laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This is also the day when new recruits of the Austrian Armed Forces are sworn in.
Additionally, military celebrations typically take place at Vienna’s Heldenplatz and many museums offer free or discounted entry on the holiday.
All Saints’ Day
This religious holiday falls on Tuesday November 1st. It is a celebration of all saints of the Catholic Church and is also recognised in many other countries across Europe.
On the eve of All Saints’ Day (also known as Halloween), it is customary for lanterns to be left at Austrian graveyards. Church bells then ring at noon on the actual holiday. This signifies a release of the souls of the dead, according to the beliefs surrounding this day.
Many Austrians visit cemeteries on this public holiday and decorate the graves of loved ones with autumn flowers, like marigolds and chrysanthemums.
Feast of the Immaculate Conception
On Thursday December 8th, the country shuts down once again for another religious holiday, known as Mariä Empfängnis (Mary’s Conception).
This roots of this public holiday is a celebration of the life of the Virgin Mary as Catholics believe Mary was immaculately conceived on this day. Mary’s mother, Anne, is known as the patron saint of pregnant women.
During the Nazi era, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception was no longer allowed to be a public holiday in Austria. But it was brought back in the 1955 following a public referendum on the issue.
One extra bonus for Austrian residents on Mariä Empfängnis is that shops are allowed to open as the holiday falls during the busiest shopping period of the year. On all other public holidays in Austria, shops are closed.
This year, Christmas Day (December 25th) falls on a Sunday.
Today, Christmas is a celebration of food, culture and gift giving, but the holiday has its roots firmly in Christianity as it marks the birth of Jesus.
In Austria, Christmas is mostly celebrated on the evening of December 24th – known as Christmas Eve elsewhere – and usually involves a meal with family followed by gifts.
But as Christmas is on a Sunday in 2022, it means the holiday is technically lost. When public holidays fall on a weekend in Austria they are not replaced with another day off, like in some other countries.
St. Stephen’s Day
St. Stephen’s Day in Austria is on December 26th, a holiday that is known as Boxing Day in places like the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. In the US, December 26th is more commonly known as a shopping holiday.
In Christianity, St. Stephen is regarded as one of the first martyrs and it is believed he dedicated his life to helping the poor and needy. In Austria, the day is commemorated by visiting a Christmas market, going to church or attending a special festival.
As with most other public holidays in Austria, shops are closed on St. Stephen’s Day.
Making the most of public holidays in Austria
Austria has a generous public holiday allowance with 13 days every year.
So if employees plan to take vacations during the public holidays, they can really maximise their time off.
For example, if a public holiday falls on a Wednesday, then it’s possible to take almost a week off work by only using vacation days for Thursday and Friday. But be sure to get any requests in quick as some people plan their vacation days for the entire year in January.
If you are a freelancer, then it’s always a good idea to be aware of public holidays in Austria – especially when working with clients in other countries that have different public holidays.
This way you can make sure you’re not the only one in your household working on a holiday. Or you can at least stock up on groceries before everything shuts down for a day.