Customs and traditions in Tyrol
Tradition in the heart of the Alps
Life and day-to-day activities of people in the Alpine area has always been significantly determined by traditions and customs. Centuries have passed and the landscape and the villagescape has changed with the times. Yet customs and traditions remain.
A hard life in the mountains
Life for the people in the Alps has always been hard and characterised by frugality. As beautiful and impressive as the landscape is with its high mountains, it is hard to extract any nourishment from this terrain. The people of the Alps have been living in direct dependence on the natural surroundings and its vagaries.
In the course of time countless traditions resulted directly from this train of thought. Celebrations gave thanks for a plentiful harvest, or for homes, farms, people and cattle being spared any misfortune. Pageants and processions were a way of asking for protection from any harm, or they attempted to drive out evil spirits, darkness and winter and to invoke good spirits and spring. Many of these celebrations are also accompanied by ecclesiastical traditions.
Traditions which are nurtured to this day
In spite of the increasing technologization of our daily lives and the accompanying autonomy from nature, people have still maintained customs and traditions. To date we have retained a great deal of the customs and these are nurtured in a traditional manner. In the Hall-Wattens region you can take part in these unique events as a guest.
When the tranquillity and the contemplative Christmas period draws to a close and the Christmas trees and cribs, handed down over generations, are taken out of the snugs again, the colourful Carnival celebrations begin in Tyrol. The traditional procession is held in different towns in the Hall-Wattens region each year, during which the old custom of winter – in the guise of the ‘Zottler’ – is taken over by spring – personified by the ‘Tuxer’ – is celebrated. The protagonists of the procession in their elaborate costumes impressively reflect the eternal struggle between good and evil, between light and dark, right and wrong.
The time finally arrives in December every year – forbidding figures proceed through Tyrol and attempt to propitiate winter and drive out the evil winter spirits. The Perchten figures have similarities with Krampus. These men who are dressed in costumes have carved, terrifying masks and carry loud bells which are tied to their bodies in an attempt to drive away the winter. They also beat old barrels and make noise with whatever they have. Perchten so not travel solo, they always go about in packs.
Of all the traditions based around All Saints’ Day, one of the most interesting is ‘Krapfenschnappen’, which takes place in some of the valleys. Young boys wearing white shirts and with skins over their faces, and a hat on their heads, go from house to house – in their hands they hold ‘Schnappers’, a wooden stick which has an animal head, for instance the head of a rooster or a ram. A cord, attached to the animal head, moves its lower jaw, making it chatter and clatter. For doing this, the farmers’ wives give them ‘Krapfen’ – small doughnuts – these are said to be an iconic pastry, symbolic of consecration and which are frequently laid down on graves. By way of a thank-you, the ‘Krapfenschnapper’ recite a poem or sing a song.
Experience tradition up close
Come to Tyrol and be immerses in a very special culture of customs and traditions. In the country hotel, the Reschenhof, in Mils we provide you with comfortable overnight stay options and are happy to provide you with information about traditional events which are taking place in the region. Get in touch – no obligation!