Christmas Around The World – Austria
We previously looked at how Christmas was celebrated in Armenia, today we look at how Christmas is celebrated in Austria.
People in Austria celebrate Advent however the official start of Christmas is at 4pm on Christmas Eve
Many families have an Advent Wreath made from evergreen twigs, decorated with ribbons and four candles (don’t go there!). A candle is lit on every on of the four Sundays in Advent.
Every town has a large Christmas tree in the town square and Christmas trees are also put up at home, which are traditionally brought into the house on Christmas Eve and decorated. The Christmas tree decorations include gold and silver ornaments and stars made from straw,
Children also use sweets as decorations such as small liquor-filled chocolate bottles, other various chocolates, jelly rings and Windbäckerei (meringue that’s usually in the shape of rings or stars)
For the Epiphany on the 6th January, many people put a sign in chalk over their door (known as chalking the door) with CMB written in the middle of the current year (e,g 20 C M B 20) – this is to bless their home using the initials of the three wise men (Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar). CMB can also be interpreted to mean Christus Mansionem Benedicat which translates to “May Christ Bless This House“
Most towns have a Christkindlmarkt (Christmas market) from late November to Christmas where Christmas decorations, food (like gingerbread) and Glühwein (sweet, warm mulled wine) is sold. Children believe in the Christkind, which is a golden-haired baby with wings that symbolises the new born Christ. The Christkind brings presents on Christmas Eve and leaves them under the tree, and he may also decorate the Christmas tree.
Some children may get a present from St Nicholas on the 6th December, and St Nicholas is accompanied by Krampus who punishes the naughty children.
The main Christmas meal is eaten in Christmas Eve. Gebackener Karpfen (fried carp) is usually the main course although Weihnachtsgans (roast goose) and roast turkey are increasing in popularity.
Dessert is typically chocolate and apricot cake called Sachertorte and Austrian Christmas cookies like Lebkuchen (honey gingerbread) and Vanillekipferl (almond cookies in the shape of a horse shoe)
Our next stop in our Christmas around the world journey takes us to Bangladesh.