Colourful costumes and hearty laughter - Each and every year the Ausseer carnival takes place. From Carnival Sunday to Carnival Tuesday, the revelers get dressed up, march through the villages and enjoy the social gathering.
The origin of the colourful carnival in Ausseerland was the salt industry. On the one hand, the salt trade in Bad Aussee led to the development of a well-situated middle class, and on the other hand, many workers found a profession in the field of salt mining. Every year around carnival time, the hard-working workers had the opportunity to make their opinions and thoughts known to the authorities. Even today, critical remarks but also funny events are presented in the form of carnival letters.
This tradition has spread from Bad Aussee to the surrounding villages of Altaussee, Grundlsee, Pichl-Kainisch and Knoppen. And this already happened a long time ago: some of the individual carnival groups have been performing for more than 200 years.
The action starts on carnival Sunday. Music and singing groups perform the above-mentioned carnival letters at the start in various pubs. Their contents range from anecdotes and political satire on current events to the recounting of local events from ancient times. Hand-drawn pictures further illustrate the anecdotes.
Anything goes when it comes to costumes. However, there are three main characters who have played an essential role since the early days in the 18th century: Trommelweiber, Flinserl and Pless.
The Trommelweiber represent the gender swap, that often occurs in carnival. What does it look like? Men swap shirts and trousers for white nightdresses with sleeping caps and masks. Their goal: to march through Bad Aussee on Shrove Monday to the sounds of the traditional Aussee Carnival March to drive out winter.
Trumpets and clarinets play and drums are beaten. The catchy rhythm of the noisy drummers can be heard from far away.
By the way: In addition to the bourgeois Trommelweibern from Bad Aussee, there are also the "workers' Trommelweiber" from Bad Aussee and Grundlsee as well as the " Trommelweiber from Altaussee". The former are actually female!
On Carnival Tuesday, the Flinserl, the harbingers of spring, take centre stage. The colourful and cheerful costumes are based on the Commedia dell' arte and provide a good mood. They give sweets to the children as they wander through Bad Aussee. Their constant companion on their way is the traditional Flinserl music. Their destination: The Kurhausplatz in the town centre. Once arrived, they gather and listen to the Flinserl phrases spoken by the children. These are traditional quatrains with rough wording in some cases. As a reward, the Flinserl distribute nuts and sweets to the children.
With a careful eye, the figure of "Zacherl" watches over the correct course of the procession. Equipped with a stick on which "Saublasen" are attached, it makes sure that the sweets really reach the children and that the Flinserl can move freely.
While the colourful costumes of the Flinserl make you excited about spring, the Pless represent winter. They usually parade through the streets, dressed in old clothes with an upturned beehive on their heads. The stick with the wet rag, they hold in their hands may not signal good things to come. Anyone who is not careful can expect a wet surprise after shouting "Pless Pless".
The brave children at the carnival procession try to drive out Pless and winter out of the village with snowballs.
In addition to the three predominant carnival figures, other groups have been founded in recent decades. These include, for example, the Worker-flinserl. They wear blue work robes decorated with beer capsules and with felt. Or the Altausseer Knopferl, who decorate their linen robes with buttons and wear elaborate wooden masks made from local linden.
The best way to get a picture of the colourful happenings is to attend one of the numerous carnival events, to experience your own unforgettable carnival moment in Ausseerland.