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What Austrians Do For Christmas That You Can Do Too

December 13, 2020
To say that Austria does Christmas differently is an understatement. Sure, it's an extremely religious country that observes Christmas as the solemn holy day that it is, but that doesn't mean that the Austrians don't have their own quirky traditions. Some have even scared those who dared to try to comprehend what the country does during Christmastime. Despite all that, however, the way Austrians celebrate Christmas is actually fascinating and, fortunately, easy to do at home as well. This is particularly good news for those who wanted to go to Austria for the holiday season but had to stay home because of the global pandemic.
What Austrians Do For Christmas That You Can Do Too


Putting Out an Advent Wreath

It's no secret that Austria is a very Roman Catholic-centric country. You can see it in Vienna alone, when you visit the many grand churches in the capital city. Notably, this also means that the country's Christmas traditions are, more or less, religious than commercialized. For one thing, many Austrians put out a Christmas wreath to signal Advent. The time in which people prepare for the birth of Jesus Christ, this important wreath is as important a plant as is the Christmas tree. It's set with four candles, each lighted up for each week of December (and late November) as Christmas Day draws near.
What Austrians Do For Christmas That You Can Do Too
Source: Wikimedia Commons


Decorating with Barbara Twigs

Cherry blossom trees are most prominent in Japan, aren't they? Yes, they are! However, there are quite many in Austria too. And unbeknownst to many, they play a huge part in the Christmas traditions here. On the early morning of December 4, the feast day of Saint Barbara, Austrians would pick a twig from a nearby Cherry tree—also called forsythias—and place them in a vase in their home. If the two blossoms by Christmas Eve, they take it as a sign of good luck and proper health for the coming year. Quite a fascinating Christmas tradition, isn't it?
What Austrians Do For Christmas That You Can Do Too
Source: Wikimedia Commons


Lighting Up an Incense

Though Advent is the more prominent pre-holiday period in Austria, the country also observes a 'Rauhnächte.' This refers to the 12 days before Christmas, similarly to how the classic Christmas carol mentions. And during this time, Austrians would light up incense mixed with herbs and palm branches from last Easter and let the smoke roam free around their homes. They do it to keep the evil spirits at bay, especially during this holiday. Now, if you saved your own plan branches from Easter and you have incense at home, you can easily do this tradition wherever you are in the world.
What Austrians Do For Christmas That You Can Do Too
Source: Wikimedia Commons


Warning Your Kids About Krampus

One of Austria's more unique Christmas traditions, one that has piqued others' interest, is Krampus. Who is Krampus, you ask? Why just a terrifying demon-like creature who kidnaps the naughty kids and punished them during Christmas! Quite unbelievable, right? But yes, he does exist. Alongside St. Nicholas, Austria's (and the rest of Europe) more saint-like version of Santa Claus, Krampus visits the children during the holiday season. More than anything, this horrific figure aims to scare naughty children to be good for the coming year. And best believe that once you've seen Krampus, you'll prefer to receive coal than a visit from him!
What Austrians Do For Christmas That You Can Do Too
Source: Wikimedia Commons


Baking and Serving Vanillekipferl

Now for something tasty! Year after year, Austrians prepare Vanillekipferl for Christmas. These crescent moon-shaped cookies are the country's answer to the more famous gingerbread men. Their adorable shapes alone will already charm you, but once you take a bite out of one, you'll want more and more. Though they're biscuits, they're not that hard to bite into. Some might even liken them to madeleine of France—tender, light, and so sweet! If you do prefer a bit of crunch, you can always include some almonds or hazelnuts. They pair well with coffee, hot chocolate, or even some dessert wine as well!
What Austrians Do For Christmas That You Can Do Too
Source: Wikimedia Commons


Waiting for Christkind

Even though Austrians believe in St. Nicholas, they don't expect him to give them presents. He's far from the Santa Claus the rest of the world is familiar with. Instead, it's Christkind who comes bearing gifts during Christmas. Looking like an angel with blonde hair, wings, and a halo, he's pretty much a mish-mash of both Santa Claus and the Baby Jesus Christ. The tradition goes is that, while the kids are outside playing during Christmas, a little bell will ring from inside the home. That tells them that Christkind has left his gifts inside and the little ones are free to find them!
What Austrians Do For Christmas That You Can Do Too
Source: Wikimedia Commons

To say that Austria celebrates Christmas in a unique and different way is an understatement! Their traditions are unlike any you'll see in other countries. With that said, a handful of them are actually easy to do at home, wherever that may be!

Luckily, if you are in Austria for the holidays this year, there are loads of luxury rentals you can book to call your home!




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