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Austrian traditions For Members

Heilige Drei Könige: What's open on Austria's public holiday on January 6th?

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
Heilige Drei Könige: What's open on Austria's public holiday on January 6th?
January 6th is a holiday celebrating the Three Holy Kinds in Austria (Photo by Jonathan Meyer on Unsplash)

Austria's first national public holiday of the year after January 1st is Epiphany - so what closes down and what stays open on January 6th?

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In 2024, January 6th falls on a Saturday, so most people on a regular working calendar won't really be able to make the most of it.

However, just as with any other holiday in the country, almost every store and supermarket will be closed, leading to long lines and packed stores on Friday as people hunker down for the weekend (Sundays are also rest days in Austria, so if you need to fill up the fridge, now is the time). 

Why is January 6th a public holiday in Austria?

Like most national holidays, this one also has religious roots – more specifically, Catholic roots. On January 6th, Catholics celebrate “adoration of the Magi” when the three kings visited the newborn Jesus Christ.

In Austria, the holiday is known as Heilige Drei Könige, or Three Holy Kings. 

READ ALSO: Reader question: What happens in Austria when a holiday falls on a weekend?

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What's still open?

Most stores and supermarkets will be closed because it is a public holiday. However, restaurants are still open, and if you find yourself with an empty fridge, convenience stores in petrol stations and supermarkets inside train and metro stations are still allowed to open in Austria, even on public holidays.

Some bakery businesses also stay open - but might have special hours, so it's best to check with your local Anker, Ströck, Der Mann and Felber. 

Vienna supermarkets

Billa in Herrnhuterhaus (Neuer Markt 17) extends shopping hours from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM, catering to customers' supply needs. Billa am Praterstern is open between 6:00 AM and 10:00 PM, providing a late shopping option.

Billa at Franz-Josefs-Bahnhof / Julius Tandler Platz (9th district) operates from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM, offering additional convenience for residents. Billa at Westbahnhof / Europaplatz (15th district) is open from 5:30 AM to 11:00 PM for their shopping needs.

Spar in AKH / Währinger Gürtel (9th district) serves customers from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Interspar at the central train station (10th district) operates between 8:00 AM and 11:00 PM, offering convenience for travellers staying nearby.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about supermarkets in Austria

Spar in the Floridsdorf clinic (21st district) is a supply option for Floridsdorf residents.

BIPA store at Franz-Josefs-Bahnhof in Vienna remains open on Sundays, offering various cosmetic and household products, including detergents and cleaning materials.

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OKAY markets across the city, including those at the main university and Wien Mitte, operate with varying opening hours. U3 supermarket at Westbahnhof welcomes shoppers from 7:00 AM to midnight.

Another easy (though likely expensive) solution is to head to a convenience store at a gas station. Some of them can offer quite a large selection of food and drinks and stay open over holidays – they are also a good alternative for late-night shopping in some cases.

How do Austrians celebrate the holiday?

Several traditions take place on this date, involving various customs and practices. It's common for people to take down their Christmas decorations and pack away their Christmas trees for the year.

READ ALSO: COMPARE: How do Austria's public holidays stack up against the rest of Europe?

Another common tradition observed on this day is the Sternsinger (star singers), a group of young kids dressed as kings who visit homes, singing in groups of four. They might sing, offer blessings for the home, and typically seek donations for charitable causes organised by the churches.

It's not uncommon to see homes marked with chalk just above the door in Austria. This marking signifies that the Sternsinger has blessed the house. They mark the year of the blessing and the three kings' initials – Kaspar, Melchior, and Balthazar – over the doorway.

Religious families may go to a solemn mass at the church and gather for a significant family meal to commemorate this date. For Orthodox believers, January 6th also marks Christmas Eve. 

READ ALSO: Which days off will workers in Austria get in 2024?

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When is the next public holiday in Austria?

After Saturday, people in Austria will have to wait a while for the following public holiday, as there are no official national ones in February or March. However, Easter Monday (again, a Christian celebration) will fall on April 1st.

As this holiday is always celebrated on Mondays in Austria, it will give you a chance to enjoy a long weekend.

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