A cultural foray into the Styrian region

Traditions and customs in the Murau region

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.

Customs in the Murau region

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, with the next edition planned for 2022.

Intangible cultural heritage in the municipality of Murau

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:

  • Murau Civic Guard
  • Krakaudorf Ceremonial Militia
  • Krakauebene Ceremonial Militia
  • Ranten Corpus Christi Guard
  • Ceremonial Militia of the Parish of St. Peter am Kammersberg

The history of the individual institutions goes back as far as the 17th century.

The three-day Maxlaun market and the delivery of the “Freiung” – also an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO since 2013 – takes place every year on the second weekend of October in Niederwölz. The name derives from the patron saint of Maximilian, whose feast day is celebrated on 12 October.

In his honour, a procession takes place every year, during which the “Freiung” – an arm carved from black painted wood, holding a festively decorated sword – is carried along a traditional route to the fairgrounds.

Styrian traditions and customs …

… at Easter

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.

… during Advent

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.

… at New Year’s Eve

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:

  • The traditional erection of the maypole is accompanied by local folk festivities, as is the subsequent cutting down of the maypole.
  • The Harvest Festival is celebrated to give thanks for a plentiful harvest.
  • In East Styria, the “Pudelmuatta” makes her appearance during Advent, bringing children fruit and sweets.
  • Other important local traditions and customs include the April Fool’s Day joke on 1 April and the dialects of the individual regions.

Culture in the Murau region

The Murau region offers visitors a varied cultural programme throughout the year, including performances by local artists as well as national ensembles.

Various cultural associations present a variety of events, ranging from chamber concerts to theatre performances and from the summer gallery to musical readings, musical evenings and much more.

Special tip for the Murau region: Join a guided tour! For instance, seize the chance to see a catholic or protestant church from the inside. Or how about getting to know Murau during a Anna Neumann city tour? Guided tours are also offered at Gesundheitswerkstätte Stolzalpe.

A visit to the Brewery of the Senses is also highly recommended – particularly on bad weather days. At this special beer museum, guests of all ages get to experience the famous Murau beer with all senses.

Are you looking for an alternative? The timber museum is accessible and a fascinating and fun experience for the whole family.

© Tom Lamm | ikarus.cc | Tom Lamm

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