© Tirol Werbung/Lisa Hörterer
© Tirol Werbung/Lisa Hörterer

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.

Lucky Charms: cherry tree branches, © Tirol Werbung

Lucky Charms

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.

St. Nikolaus, © Tirol Werbung/Michael Grössinger

St. Nicholas

Have You Been Good....

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. 

© Alpbachtal Tourismus


Who's That Knocking at My Door?

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.

Averting Bad Fortune

Averting Bad Fortune

In the past, people believed that during the 12 Rauhnächten (literally: Nights of Smoke) between 24 December and 6 January the doors to another world opened. This resulted in many customs and rituals, especially on the three most important nights (24 December, 31 December and 5 January). If you were wondering, the term 'Nights of Smoke' comes from the tradition of burning incense inside one's home to protect it from bad luck and ask for good fortune in the new year.

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

Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar

The Three Magi

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.

Christmas Markets

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