Traditions, customs, culture: All of this is deeply rooted in the Murau region. Throughout the year, numerous festivities and events offer perfect opportunities to join the fun and celebrate together with the locals. The region’s villages have been shaped by a long and eventful history. Many old traditions and customs are still living on, with some of them having been listed as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO.
The “Faschingrennen” (carnival race) is one of the region’s oldest traditions. It takes place every year on Rose Monday and celebrates the arrival of spring with plenty of noise and dance. With special vehicles or on foot, the “carnival racers” go from farm to farm. Along the way, they have to master various challenges such as jumping over a chain (called “Speng”) across the road or engaging in a duel.
By the way: Since 2006, the “Faschingrennen” has been an intangible UNESCO cultural heritage.
During summer, various “Samson parades” take place throughout the Murau region. Murau’s Samson figure goes back to the Old Testament, with the traditional Samson procession dating back to the 18th century. Every year on 15 August, a five-metre figure weighing 75 kilograms is carried through the Old Town of Murau by strong men, accompanied by gun salutes and the Murau Civic Guard. The impressive spectacle is topped off by waltz music from the local marching band.
There are five civic guards and ceremonial militias in the district of Murau. In December 2021, they were listed as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO:
The history of the individual institutions goes back as far as the 17th century.
From the region for the region: True to this motto, many dedicated locals have taken it upon themselves to pass down regional customs and traditions. They make sure that the annual celebrations and festivities turn out a success. For instance, there is a great variety of customs and traditions especially during Easter and winter in Styria.
Many traditional events are still celebrated today in the Murau region, all of them perfect opportunities to honour the region’s past. For instance, the St. Georgen Passion Plays go back as far as 1922. Since their reinstitution during the 1990s, the passion plays have been staged four times, the last ones were in the year 2022.
Palm Sunday commemorates the entrance of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, when people hailed him with palm branches. Today, festively decorated “Palmbuschen” (palm bouquets) and palm sticks are consecrated on the Sunday before Easter. During the Holy Week, the ringing of the church bells is replaced by the sound of ratcheting (“Ratschen”).
During the “meat consecration” on Holy Saturday, traditional Easter foods are placed in baskets lined with lace napkins and brought to church to be blessed, usually during a short outdoor service.
Another highlight is the Easter bonfire on Holy Saturday – a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Advent season in Styria is packed with traditional festivities and customs. For instance, marvel at the gruesome “Perchten” with their wooden masks, horns and fur costumes during one of the many Perchten parades.
At the Murau Perchten Parade, several groups of Perchten from the surrounding area are present. The “Krampus” is another eerie fellow. He is celebrated during the traditional Krampuslauf parade on 5 December, where the Krampusse accompany St. Nicholas.
Arts and crafts, culinary delights and the sweet smell of mulled wine: If you’re looking for a less frightening way to get into the Christmas mood, we recommend visiting one of the region’s many Christmas markets.
On 28 December, the “Frisch und g’sund Schlagen“ tradition is practiced in Styria. On the “Day of the Innocent Children”, kids go from house to house, wishing the people there a Happy New Year.
Between 2 and 6 January, the Star singers chalk a blessing (the letters C+M+B) on the top of the door frame of each home.
In addition, there are many more traditions and customs in the Murau region, many of them of ecclesiastical origin: