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Customs

Traditional festivals and holidays are greatly valued and passionately cultivated in Zillertal and integrated into everyday life. Whether Grasausläuten (bell processions), Klöpflsingen (door-to-door carol singing) or Krampuslaufen (Krampus parades), history is brought back to life for locals and visitors and the deeper meanings behind the events are remembered.

Brauchtum Perchten im Zillertal

Perchten

In the early New Year, people dressed as Perchten and disguised by a “Larfn” (mask) go from door to door to wish the people of the village a Happy New Year. So as not to be recognised, they usually remain in costume throughout the evening. As per ancient custom, the Perchten receive a schnapps from each house.

Grasausläuten (bell processions)

There’s one centuries-old custom that is still celebrated in Zillertal as ambitiously as ever: Grasausläuten. Children (and even some adults) walk through the villages in folk costume chasing away winter with the sound of their bells. Those who live there treat the little ones to sweets or other little treats and the older procession members to a schnapps. The traditional procession for driving away winter takes place every year at the end of April/start of May in all villages throughout the valley.

Sacred Heart fires - mountains in flames

It is an ancient tradition in the alpine region that when the longest day of the year converges with the shortest night, summer is welcomed with flames on the mountains. Thus, numerous groups and associations light mountain fires around Zillertal – the so-called Sacred Heart fires. The custom of these fires is derived from the vow on the Sacred Heart of Jesus, an expression of Roman Catholic spirituality. This year, the spectacle takes place on June 25. Shortly before nightfall, the fires are lit on the mountains. Fascinating, fiery images with various motifs and symbols create a truly mystical atmosphere.

Ringing a bell - The magical power of bells

The custom of ringing a bell to warn of bad weather combines people’s beliefs and physics.

There has always been something fascinating about the sound of a church bell ringing out far and wide. And this is still the case even today. But do bells even have magical powers? The wide-spread Alpine custom of ringing a bell to warn of bad weather clearly infers so! This is why the church bells are always rung when a storm is approaching. The custom is based on a simple principle of physics: the sound waves emitted by the bells are said to disperse the clouds and protect people from the threatening evil. And even if this theory doesn’t stand up to scientific testing, it is well known that beliefs can move mountains.

Krampuslauf (Krampus parade)

In the mid-17th century, the custom of a visit by Saint Nikolaus began. Accompanied by Krampus, he would come to see the children and reward or scold them. Krampus was a ghoul who punished unruly children. During the 20th century, however, his role changed and he started to commit his mischief without St. Nikolaus and even in groups, scaring passers-by on the street on the evening before St Nicholas Day.

Klöpflsinger auf der Grieralm Zillertal

Klöpflsingen (door-to-door carol singing)

In lederhosen, a traditional grey Tuxer Janker jacket, an old felt hat and Doggls (typical Zillertal shoes), men from Aschau to Hintertux knock on doors on the four Thursdays before Christmas in the name of Jesus Christ. Traditional Christmas carols are sung and poems are recited. Klöpflsingen announces that Christmas is coming.

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