Styria offers many surprises during the carnival season. Old customs and modern processions bring a diversity of colour to the subsiding winter season. The so-called log pull, a fertility custom during carnival, refers to the log, a tree trunk, which today is usually pulled through the village by a tractor. Often the custom occurs in combination with a regional brass band that provides a good mood and adds to the celebration.
Not to be missed with the carnival activity is the popular carnival race: the carnival race on Monday is one of the oldest customs in the region of Murau. The Schellfaschingsgruppe and the Rossgruppe move out to dance a circular dance in the village square and then run from farm to farm. Masked figures move from house to house in the endurance run, the path sweeper running along with them. The first is always the so-called chicken grabber [Hühnergreifer], wrapped in feathers with a mask of feathers, who is looking for gifts. His figure is very conspicuous due to the decorative feathers. He is given oats and eggs as gifts – and if you forget, well, the chicken grabber will take the eggs out of the barn. The run ends by about 7:00 pm and the path sweeper can swing the broom one more time and do the Kranzl (a typical folk dance).
A real insider tip is carnival in Ausseerland. Some customs have existed since the 17th century and have continued since then. Three terms that are indispensable for carnival in this region are the Flinserl, the Trommelweiber and the Maschkera.
Now if you ask what the term 'Maschkera' means: that's what the masked figures in carnival in general are called in Ausseerland who dance in the streets and joke. There are different types of carnival customs in Ausseerland that have developed differently depending on the places. An important example of this is the known Trommelweiber, who are celebrating an anniversary in 2017. The original Ausseer Trommelweiber have existed since 1767, but the custom itself goes back to even earlier roots. On the Monday during carnival, the figures in white robes move through the streets, led by a flag carrier with a Maschkera flag to the accompaniment of loud beats on the big drums. The winter is to be expelled by the sound of the drums, which sound from morning until the afternoon through the towns. The Beigl is carried during the process, which is a fasting cake that has been eaten by the Ausseer residents during carnival for over 500 years. A fresh Beigl is round in shape and is then skilfully torn apart by two people, the so-called 'Beigl tearing". If you are talented, you will receive the larger piece of the delicious Beigl during the Beigl tearing.
On Tuesday during carnival, the next figures then follow, namely the so-called Flinserl: the colourful dazzling robes of the Flinserl are elaborately crafted by hand. The figures are friendly and cheerful. The Flinserl throw nuts to children from their bags.
The Pless also join in with this colourful hustle and bustle. These figures represent winter, which is now to be driven out during carnival. The Pless figures are wrapped in old white robes and wear a bee basket on their head. But watch out! Although their vision is restricted by the baskets, they carry a stick in their hands on which a wet cloth is attached and they run through the alleyways and surprise spectators with their yelling "Pless, Pless..." and their wet cloths. You should beware of the wet cloths. Children, on the other hand, hunt the Pless and their cloths. In this way, the children drive the Pless, i.e. metaphorically the cold winter, out of the village with a common force.
The culinary aspect of carnival cannot be missed: The well-known round carnival doughnuts and less-known elongated Stanglkrapfen [donuts], and of course also the Beigl for the Beigl tearing.