Christmas time becomes something very special, as, even in cities, a very unique peace and friendliness comes about, and every family celebrates Christmas time according to old, handed-down traditions. During Advent time, a custom exists that in every city a Christmas market (also called "Christkindlmarkt") is opened up, in which one can obtain everything starting with sweets, Christmas tree decorations and even souvenirs.
Veldener Advent 30th of Nov to 23st of Dec. 12
Velden Advent enchants visitors with angels and stars on the wintry lake shores of the Wörthersee. The air is filled with the aromas and fragrances of Christmas as you walk by the romantic stands featuring regional arts and crafts and many other special items. You find yourself wanting to linger, to take it all in, and to immerse yourself in the moment.
Against the backdrop of the "Castle on Wörthersee", well-known to TV viewers as the venue of a popular series, a unique floating Advent wreath lights up the Velden bay. Take a boat ride on the lake aboard the Santa Lucia for an unusual perspective and lovely views. Once you´re back on land, enjoy a cup of hot punch to warm body and soul.
However, during the so-called "Perchtenlauf," the atmosphere is not so romantic and quiet. The "Perchtenlauf" always takes place in the beginning of December in different villages in all Carinthian regions, during which men disguise themselves with fearful devil's masks and run screaming among the crowd under the sound of cow bells.
Krampus museum in Suetschach.
The wild “Krampus” spirits (companions of St Nicholas) of Suetschach, a small village in the Rosental Valley, run through the streets on unevenly numbered days and never on Fridays. Legend has it that on one Friday the Devil himself mixed with the disguised boys when the 13th Krampus was missing. The oldest records of this custom date back to 1889. In the Krampus epicentre you will find the only Krampus museum in Austria, with more than 70 masks and costumes on display which the lads wear year after year. A really scary place.
Schapp, schapp, frisch und g’sund.
“Schapp, schapp, frisch und g’sund, s’ganze Jahr gsund bleibn, nit klunzn nit klagn, bis i wieder kumm schlagn.” [“Snap, snap, fresh and healthy, stay healthy all year with no complaints till I come knocking again.”] Children chant this verse early in the morning of 28 December, the “innocent children’s day”, while they tap the adults of the neighbourhood with branches. As a thank you they receive sweets and a few Euros. The children have to be back home by 8 o’clock in the morning, otherwise according to the gruesome tradition they will be put in the oven.
Horse blessing on St Stephen’s Day.
In all the places in Carinthia which are named after St Stephen, such as St. Stefan in the Lavant Valley, on St Stephen’s Day the horses are blessed. After the traditional St Stephen’s ride the horses are given bread with salt. According to tradition, riding round the church three times at different paces (walk, trot and gallop) protects the horses from illness and accidents.
Ante pante at Candlemas.
An ancient custom known as “carrying little churches” is still kept up in Eisenkappl/ Želesna Kapla. On the evening before Candlemas the children build little churches out of coloured paper and the following day they place these in the River Vellach, where they float down the valley like little dots of light while the children chant a curious song. When you listen to this more closely it runs “Ante pante populore, kocla vrate cvilijore”. The first part is a corruption of the Latin “Ante faciem omnium popolorum” (Before the face of all peoples), and the second part is Slovenian and roughly means “Kocelj’s door creaks”. This sweet custom arose in the Middle Ages, when after heavy rainfall the Vellach burst its banks and flooded the valley. In their desperation the inhabitants each threw a miniature church lit by a candle into the raging river and lo and behold, the flood waters receded.
After Christmas time, the same men also "get rid" of winter, in order to make way to a more happier time, namely Carnival.
The Villacher Carnival Guild and the Villacher carnival, where one can laugh heartily about topics such as politics, television, and the daily cares during the carnival meetings - from November until Carnival Tuesday - is very famous far beyond the borders of Carinthia. Different carnival meetings take place all over the country. Don`t miss it!