Christmas is coming

Rituals and typical customs around Christmas

It is the many customs around Advent and Christmas that make the most beautiful time of the year really what it is: a time of contemplation and finding calm, a time for the family and for stories. In Advent on the Arlberg you can experience how this time of the year is traditionally spent in the regions of Tyrol and Vorarlberg.

Christmas in Tyrol and Vorarlberg: Traditional customs

One of the most atmospheric experiences for the whole family is a visit to an Advent or Christmas market that pop up in every village. In Lech-Zürs, amid the snow-covered mountain giants of the Arlberg and the charming village facades, the Christmas markets are surrounded by a very magical atmosphere: Home-baked and -made delicacies, dressed-up fir trees, stalls with art handicraft and gift ideas and hospitable locals that love to chat: this is what characterises the Christmas markets on the Arlberg. In Lech there are also different wind ensembles, music groups and choirs for the musical entertainment. The younger visitors can look forward to a special children’s programme and we have heard rumors that even the Christ Child is coming…

Make a note of the following dates for your holiday at the start of the winter season in Lech:

  • 6-7 December: Christmas market in Zürs
  • 13-14 & 20-21 December: Christmas market on the Rüfiplatz in Lech

Lucky charms on St. Barbara’s day

On 4 December, the day of St. Barbara, people take home twigs from apple or cherry trees and put them in warm water next to the oven. If the Barbara twigs carry blossoms until Christmas, then, it is believed, the new year will be a lucky one.

St. Nicholas & Krampus

Around 6 December, St. Nicholas is coming to visit in Austria, sometimes accompanied by his sinister assistant, the Krampus. But often, these Krampusses just join together for a Krampuslauf.

Who is knocking?

In the deeply Christian land of Tyrol, before Christmas the “Anklöpfler” (people knocking on doors) go through some villages. In small groups, young men dressed up as shepherds, landlord, Joseph and Mary go from house to house and perform the pilgrimage with songs. There is even a song with the title “Wer klopfet an?” (Who is knocking?). Originally, this tradition was based on the belief that the knocking would drive away evil spirits.

Christmas mangers

Building mangers has got a long tradition, especially in Alpine regions. Often these mangers, which can be found in private homes, churches and exhibitions, are handmade and have been owned by families for centuries.

Tinkering and playing with the children

There is hardly any other time of the year which is as rich in rituals and traditions as the time before Christmas. Especially children love this time and the anticipation for the Christ Child. In families, in kindergartens and in schools, there is tinkering and painting, singing, playing and baking. Maybe you remember some of the following craft ideas from your own childhood?

  • Straw stars
  • Folding stars, e.g. with glossy paper
  • Silhouettes
  • Candle holders
  • Christmas decoration made of salt dough
  • Advent calendar made of matchboxes or empty toilet paper rolls
  • Gingerbread houses

The team of the Lech Lodges wishes you a contemplative and jolly time before Christmas as well as a good start into the winter season!