Tirol Christmas Traditions


The run-up to Christmas is celebrated with deeply rooted traditions that will get everyone into the Christmas spirit. We have researched the finest Advent Markets the country has to offer this season!

Christmas is one of the most special times of year—a time where delicious food is enjoyed, time is spent with family and friends and most importantly, memories are made. There is plenty to see and do around the Land in the Mountains when the most wonderful time of the year rolls around—holiday momentum really builds with these delightful events and customs, deeply rooted in tradition.


2 · Christmas Cookies


Baking biscuits at the Tassenbacherhof in East Tirol, © Tirol Werbung/Lisa Hörterer

Sweet Delicacies: One of Tirol’s seasons’ favorites is baking cookies using a variety of holiday-themed cookie cutters. Deeply rooted in tradition is Zelten, a fruit cake that is usually eaten during the Christmas season. The cake is usually made with chopped candied fruit and/or dried fruit, nuts and spices.

3 · Lucky Charms


On the Feast of Saint Barbara, which is December 04, cherry tree or apple tree branches are brought into the homes, watered and placed in a warm room to bloom on Christmas, which is said to bring luck for the year to come.

4 · Have You Been Good....


St. Nikolaus in Feichten/Kaunertal Valley, © Kaunertal Tourismus

In Austria, the Santa Claus equivalent is St. Nicholas. Like Santa, he is suited in red and has a lot of work to wrap up at this time of year. Customs connected with St. Nicholas are performed on the eve of his feast, which is December 06. However, the Austrian Christmas season brings not only St. Nicholas, the bearer of gifts, but also Krampus, his darker side, who appears to mete out punishments for misdeeds of the past year. Large, foreboding, black-clad and antlers on his head, Krampus roams the streets on evenings around St. Nicholas’ feast.

5 · ...or Bad This Year?


Krampus Parade in Igls, © Tirol Werbung/Bernhard Aichner

However, the Austrian Christmas season brings not only St. Nicholas, the bearer of gifts, but also Krampus, his darker side, who appears to mete out punishments for misdeeds of the past year. Large, foreboding, black-clad and antlers on his head, Krampus roams the streets on evenings around St. Nicholas’ feast. Grand “Krampus Parades” take place in late November and early December in Reutte, Haiming, Lermoos, Kappl or Lienz.

6 · Who's That Knocking at My Door?


© Alpbachtal Seenland Tourismus

The re-enactment of Mary and Joseph’s journey: Among the activities and performances filling the Christmas traditions in some Tirolean villages is Joseph and Mary's search for shelter entitled “Anklöpfler” (literally, knocking at). The traditional story of the Holy Family’s journey, and their search for lodging, is re-enacted in a procession of carolers, historic characters, and visitors participating in the Christmas music.

7 · Tirolean Nativity Scenes


© Tirol Werbung/Laurin Moser

The depiction of the Nativity Scene is one of the oldest and most beloved Christmas traditions in many Tirolean homes. While focusing on the central figures of the mother Mary and the Christ Child, crèche artists often telescope time and place to bring together a host of earthly and heavenly participants - shepherds, animals, angels, wise men, and commoners.

Special Recommendation:The Museum at Innsbruck Court Church boasts some of the country’s most beautiful and elaborate crèches, along with a variety of bizarre peculiarities relating to this tradition. Elaborate crèches are on display at many churches and homes throughout Tirol and can be visited from December 24 through Candlemas, February 2.

8 · Averting Bad Fortune


The three "Rauchnächte" (Nights of Smoke) - Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and the night before Epiphany (January 05), play an important role in Tirolean folk customs. Everything that happens in these nights is considered of great significance. Incense is burnt in homes and stables to avert bad fortune.

9 · The Three Magi


Epiphany singers in St. Sigmund, © Tirol Werbung/Bernhard Aichner

A wonderful tradition is that of “Sternsinger” (literally ‘Star Singers’) singing, traditionally celebrated around 6th January in Tirol. This unique singing procession, also known as “Epiphany singers”, has children and young people walking from house to house with a star on a rod and dressed up as the Three Magi to collect money for charitable purposes. After having sung their songs, recited a poem, and collected donations for children in poorer parts of the world, they chalk the C+M+B blessing above the main door of the home. These initials refer to the Latin phrase “Christus Mansionem Benedicat” – “May Christ Bless this Home”; they are often interpreted as the names of the Three Magi, also known as the Three Wise Men, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar.

Go up
Live Chat
Live Chat