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Christmas in Austria

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.

Christmas Shopping in Vienna

It’s that time again. Every year around this time all the shops at Kärntner and Mariahilfer Straße prank themselves and attract their customers to have a look on their offers. At the middle of November at the latest you recognize that Christmas comes up. Mostly the pre-Christmas period then passes by so quickly and just a few days before Christmas you then realize that you still need some small gifts for your friends and relatives and you hectically start your final shopping tour through the shopping malls of your home town. To save yourself from this and to make your shopping a bit easier this year we want to betray you some of Vienna’s shopping hot spots.

 

The classics – Mariahilfer Straße & the golden U

Kärntner Straße illuminated in Christmas splendor

If you come to Vienna for shopping you can not miss out those two places. No matter if you walk along Mariahilfer Straße or you stroll around Kärnter Straße, Graben or Kohlmarkt those four streets give you endless possibilities. The easiest way to reach the Mariahilfer Straße from our hostels is by taking the metro. In the big shopping malls of the Mahü – that’s how Mariahilfer Straße is called in the vernacular – you can find every famous brand. No matter if you search for a small gift or something bigger you’ll find it at the Mariahilfer Straße. Because at the 2 kilometres long shopping stores and shops line up next to each other and you can find everything which fits under the Christmas tree from clothing, books to electronics.

The golden U however is the place to be if you search for something more expensive and elegant The three pedestrian zones Kohlmarkt, Kärntner Straße and Graben create in the centre of Vienna the golden U. Here you can find the most famous shopping boutiques, restaurants, hotels but also affordable stores. Here you can find nearly every brand. If you want to spent a bit more this year you can also visit the boutiques of Gucci, Armani and other high-end brands. Really close to the Graben you can take a break during a long shopping day. At the Café Central – one of the oldest and most traditional Viennese Cafés of the city – you can have a traditional coffee break – coffee, maybe a typical Viennese Melange and a piece of cake – and recover yourself for the rest of the day. For your shopping trip to Vienna the Palace Hostel Vienna has put together a great package including a coffee break, the ticket for the public transport and much more.

 

Trend shopping – the small boutiques aside the mainstream

Le Shop at Kirchengasse

If you have passed by all the big shopping malls and you still need some small, extraordinary gifts then you should find yourself at the small side streets of the Mariahilfer Straße. Not far away from Mariahilfer Straße you can find the Kirchengasse. Here you find a huge collection on a small area. No matter if you search for young fashion design, streetwear, rarely sneakers or something unusual for kids the small shops here offer you nearly everything aside the mainstream. At SIGT and at Disaster Clothing you can find young fashion design from Austria, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Spain. If you search for extraordinary sneakers you have to go for Zapateria. Beside of the massive collection fans of sneakers also love it because of the seldom items you can find. The fair trade collection of Göttin des Glücks is also located at Kirchengasse and if you are still searching for something for your kids you have to go to Herr & Frau Klein. Here you can find unusual baby clothes and cool romper suits.

Also at the trendy Gumpendorf you can find many small shops which are worth to visit. In the small sidestreets between Mariahilfer Straße and the Naschmarkt you can find nearly everything like furniture, fashion or cosmetics. If you search for modern furniture das Möbel is the place to be but if you like retro furniture from the last century you should take a look at the Lichterloh. At Gumpendorf you can also find organic and fair trade fashion. If you particularly search for that you have to visit Vivendi, Anukoo and Anzüglich. Beside of fashion and electronics one can also find cosmetics underneath many Christmas trees. If you are sceptic about the cosmetics in the mainstream shops you should take a look at St. Charles Apotheke and St. Charels Cosmothecary. Here you can find high quality natural cosmetics made of domestic herbs and plants.

 

Culinary from the Naschmarkt and the Brunnenmarkt

Christmas shopping at the Naschmarkt

Not far from Gumpendorf you can find a real culinaric institution in Vienna. The Naschmarkt exists since the 16th century and countless stores, restaurants and stands line up on a length of 1.5 kilometres. If you search for some extraordinary herbs, teas or other temptations for Christmas this is the place to be.

The a bit less touristy alternative is the Brunnenmarkt in Ottakring. Only 20 minutes away from the Palace Hostel Vienna you feel like you would be in another world. At Brunnenmarkt you can find Turkish stands and specialities from the Balkan Peninsula but also Austrian delicacies. But the atmosphere is totally different in comparison to the Naschmarkt. Here you feel like you would stroll around one of the many markets of Southern Europe. The offer is huge and you can find many delicacies from all around the world. If you are tired of all the hustle and bustle after a while you can relax at one of the many cafés and restaurants at Yppenplatz directly at the end of the Brunnenmarkt.