All around the world we celebrate Christmas tonight and today we want to explain you how we celebrate Christmas in Austria.
Holy Night – the 24th of December
Maybe this is a bit different to many other cultures but for Austrians the 24th of December is the most important day during Christmas time. Normally we celebrate Christmas among our families. Especially for our kids Christmas is a special day and they enjoy their afternoon normally with great activities. If there is some snow at Christmas time the children go for some bob sledging or they make some hand dipping candles. During this time the Christkind – our counterpart to America’s Santa Claus – is decorating the Christmas tree.
Later the day the children arrive back at home and the whole family visits the Christmas mass at church. After the mass everyone has dinner together. Every family enjoys its Christmas dinner different but in Austria there are many distinctive traditional Christmas dinner. Some families try to have a relaxed evening and have a great traditional Jause – a meal consisting of bread, cold cuts, cheese, and much more – others have a glamorous dinner Many traditional glamorous dinner are turkey, similar to the United States, but also Christmas carp or different types of deer with red cabbage and dumplings. After a long meal it is time to wait for the arrival of the Christkind. The families are playing games and spending a reflective evening, when suddenly the Christmas bell rings. The Christmas bell is a small bell brought by the Christkind and which is ringing when all the presents are laid underneath the tree. Then all the kids jump from their seats and start to run to the Christmas tree. The whole family then admires the Christmas tree enlighten by sparklers and candles and starts to sing some traditional Christmas songs. During that normally all the kids are waiting impatiently to open the Christmas presents underneath the tree. After the gift giving the kids are kept busy by the new presents and toys and the adults have time for a chat or another game before the evening ends. Some of the family members maybe join the midnight mass before they also fall asleep after a long day.
New Year’s Eve in Austria – 31st of December
Whereas Christmas is a family day New Year’s Eve is a day which is celebrated with your friends. People usually meet in the evening and have dinner together. We have some fondue together or we enjoy some Raclette – a dinner where we put a grill in the middle of the table and everyone puts meet, vegetables and much more onto it. Then we spent a lot of time together before we prepare ourselves for midnight. Nearly household in Austria switches on the radio land listens to the radio when the radio stations broadcast live from St. Stephan’s Square. At midnight then the bell of St. Stephan’s Cathedral rings 12 times and everyone is dancing a waltz to the music of the Donauwalzer. Subsequent we start to spark our fireworks and we greet the New Year. We clink glasses of Champagne and celebrate for the New Year. We also give each other lucky charm for the next year and celebrate into the early morning hours.
New Year’s Day – 1st of January
Worldwide known but different than The Sound of Music also Austrians watch the New Year’s concert. The classical concert is held every year at the 1st of January by the Viennese philharmonics and broadcasted to more than 90 countries worldwide. After a long New Year’s Eve we normally weak up pretty late and firstly switch on watch TV. The rest of the day we enjoy a relaxed day and relax after a long night.
Twelfth Day – 6th of January
The last Christmassy day of the year is the Twelfth day on the 6th of January. During that day the three Magi come to your house – normally some children are dressed like them – and bring you blessing for the next year. As a thank you we normally donate some money to the three Magi to support some people who are going to need some help the next year. As a holiday families spend the day together and have a nice winter day but in comparison to other cultures the Twelfth Day is not too important for Austrians.