Glöckler, Perchten, Maschkera and Trommelweiber

The fifth season has a lot going on. Everywhere.

The Perchten parades, that can sometimes seem pretty wild indeed, are held in just about all federal states and are an indispensable part of carnival. Sometimes Perchten and Glöckler from different federal states will come together for a joint parade. And the magical Rauhnächte, the night before St Thomas’ Day, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and the night before Epiphany, are also major dates in the calendar.

Salzburg, Graz, Linz, Wien, Innsbruck

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    Smoke and the Rauhnächte

    In the Rauhnächte (once “holy” nights), herbs, resin, incense seeds and sometimes holy water is burned to generate smoke for driving away evil spirits and asking for protection and blessings. An old custom that has become widespread, even in the cities – herbal knowledge is modern again.

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    The Glöcklerlauf

    The Ebenseer Glöcklerlauf (”bell-ringers procession) is a UNESCO world cultural heritage: Glöckler, light spirits dressed in white, are considered to be “good” spirits that drive out the evil Rauhnacht spirits and the winter. The Glöckler can be seen every year on 5 January, when they appear as impressive beings of light with colourful, artistic hats and illuminations. A fabulous spectacle.

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    Carnival traditions

    One very special regional carnival parade in Tyrol is the Milser Matschgerer. The traditional carnival figures you’ll see at this event are the Tuxer, the Zottler, the Zaggeler and the Klötzler – no, the figures can’t really be explained. You just have to be there. Another special carnival tradition is the “bloch-pulling” in Fiss – a fertility festival with plenty of colour and masks, which is also listed by UNESCO.

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    Perchten parades

    The Krampus and Perchten parades in Austria feature in the media every year on 5 January – mostly because they got a little too wild. Perchten parades are still held in all federal states – a loud spectacle with a lot of fire and smoke... and for some, a few good whacks with the cane. But Perchten are actually bringers of good luck.

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    Fasching in Aussee: Trommelweiber, Maschkera, Flinserl and Pless

    Nowhere is carnival more celebrated than in Ausseerland (well, ok, maybe in Kärnten: Lei Lei!), but the Aussee inhabitants put their hearts and souls into the fifth season. Parades over three days, through the villages and the taverns, with the “Maschkera” enjoying particular carnival-time licence. The Flinserl figures on Shrove Tuesday embody the springtime with wonderful colour, whereas the Pless represent the winter. And the masked (male) Trommelweiber (or “drumming ladies”) stand out with their drinking abilities. One stand-out feature: there are Trommelweiber groups in Altausee and in Grundlsee. A UNESCO world cultural heritage? But of course!

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