CHRISTMAS IN AUSTRIA
The feast of St Nicholas marks the beginning of Christmas in Austria. The saint accompanied by the devil asks children for
a list of their good and bad deeds. Good children are given sweets, toys and nuts. Gifts that are placed under the tree
are opened after dinner on Christmas Eve.
Brass instruments play chorale music room church steeples, and carol singers, carrying blazing torches and a manger
from house to house, gather on the church steps.
Silent Night was first sung in 1818, in the village church of Oberndorf. There is a story told of how Christmas was almost
spoiled for the villagers that year. On Christmas Eve, the priest went into the church and found that the organ was not
working. The leather bellows that are used to pump the air through the pipes were full of holes. Christmas without music
would not do so the priest showed the organist Franz Bauer a new Christmas hymn he had written. Franz quickly composed
a tune for it that could be played on a guitar. So Oberndorf had music after all.
In Austria baked carp is served for the traditional Christmas dinner. December 6 in Austria is when Heiliger Nikolaus
or St. Nicholas, rewards good children with sweets, nuts and apples. On December 24, the Christ Child brings presents
and the Christmas tree for the children. The children wait until they hear a bell tinkling. Then they enter a special
room where the Christmas tree is waiting all decorated with candles, ornaments and candies. The whole family sings
Christmas carols and wishes each other:
- FROLICHE WEIHNACHTEN!
- FROHE WEIHNACHTEN!
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