Salzburg’s Easter Traditions

Salzburg’s Easter Traditions

Easter Traditions Celebrations in Salzburg

In Salzburg and it’s surrounding countryside we have a lot of easter traditions, some are completely different to the ones in the US. Of course some of them are connected with old legends and typical regional behaviors.

The inner circle of easter celebrations starts on Palm sunday with the typical palm. This is a kind of stick with different branches of different trees. In Salzburg it is made out of hazel bush, holly, yew, shinleaf, juniper, catkin, cedar, savin and oak, then a hazelnut stick and some soft willow sticks to hold it together.

These sticks are typically carried by the smaller kids and blessed by the priest in the church during palm Sunday. Of course they get a small gift from the parents and grandparents and the blessed sticks are then stored either on the garret or in the garden and the farmers stick them into the earth of their fields to protect and bless the harvest.

The original habit is coming from the entrance of Jesus in Jerusalem where real palm leaves were used. The tradition was already mentioned in the 7th century and of course, regionally you find a few differences mainly in the combination of the palm trees and also who carries them. In former times, when the rural population was strictly subdivided in farmer and farm hand, only the heir to a farm was allowed to wear a big palm stick – the others were only allowed to wear one leaf brace.

There is also a saying of the one who is the last out of bed on Palm Sunday: it is the so called palm donkey.

This saying is also connected with an old tradition still done in some smaller villages of the countryside (eg. Puch, Saalbach, Thomatal). There one of the altar boys is riding on a living donkey during the palm ceremony. Similar to the entrance of Jesus in Jerusalem.

Sometimes also wooden donkeys are joining the procession.

making of Palmbuschen

Furthermore we have a very special tradition here in this region called easter eggs or “ANTLASS Eggs”.

Traditionally the eggs are colored in the Holy week before easter. Of course, you can buy them in the supermarkets already weeks before. BUT the special ANTLASS Eggs are laid on the Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Antlass is dating back to the old tradition of release of the church repentance in the middle ages.

This special eggs are used for the food sanctification on Easter Sunday and then they are thrown over the roof of the house to protect it and bless the house and of course – every one – especially the kids – eat one of the Anltass eggs to stay healthy and lucky in the following year.

Easter eggs and cake

We have here in this area special kind of bread at easter – it is called “GEBILDBROT”. Some bakeries still make them in Salzburg city during the easter period in the traditionally way. It is a hand formed bread looking like a easter chicken or a easter cluster often with a colored egg inside. This is usually given from the godparents to the godchild as a easter present.

On Easter Sunday you can find in almost every church the so called “Speisenweihe”: Every family brings a basket with food for sanctification. Usually you find in the basket butter, salt, bread, eggs, ham, paschal lamb (a sweet cake in the form of a lamb). This tradition of sanctification milk and honey was already mentioned in the 10th century.

The typically items that can be found in almost every shop during easter time is the Easter rabbit and the colored eggs. The rabbit as symbol of the old celtic good Ostara was over the centuries connected with Easter and in the legends he is bringing and coloring the eggs. The egg is in the christian tradition the symbol of living and rising.

Sometimes also a paschal lamb will be used as symbol of rising. Also the white fur of the lamb is connected with the clarity and peaceful life of a good christian.

The easter candle lightened on Holy Saturday to Easter Sunday is the symbol of resurrection of Jesus and therefore the symbol of the walkover of life against death.

Easter table

A rather rare tradition at Easter time you can find in the church of Grödig (a small village of about 15 min away from the city center). There the Holy Grave will be rebuilt and in front of the Grave they hold watch – the so called “Grabsteher”. Uniformed members of the local Shooters Club (“Prangerschützen”) took over the old tradition in the Middle of the 19th century to protect the Holy Grave. Only non-married young guys are allowed to protect the Holy Grave. The guard replacement is done every 30 minutes following a hand-over ceremony.

We also have some Easter crèches showing the last days of Jesus’ life and his resurrection. This is not as well known as the Christmas Crèche.

They were founded in the baroque period in Salzburg and since the year 2000 you find it in the “Salzburger Heimatwerk” (on residence square in the old town of Salzburg) an exhibition of the Easter crèches: with wood carved and thrown passion presentation and cross presentation also like monastery works.

In the night from Holy Saturday to Easter Sunday the Easter Fire are bright shining over the area: These really timbered wooden towers are often up to eighteen feet high and filled with wood to burn for a long time. They are lightened to show the pleasure to Christ resurrection.

In the Flachgau (south of Salzburg) the Easter Fire is burned before they celebrate the mess of resurrection and then they lighten Easter candles in the church. So then everyone can lighten his own candle from the Easter candle and takes it home as a Easter light and peace light.

easter fire

Traditionally in this area it is that the bells of the churches are not longer ringing from Holy Thursday onwards. Traditionally there is the saying that they are flying to Rome and come back after Christ resurrection. Also the crosses with Jesus in the Church are covered during these days with a violett drapery.

In the time of NO Bells, the “Ratschen” take over this job. The tradition is dating back till the 8th century and the ratchet will be used from smaller boys to count every full hour during the time of Holy thursday till Holy Saturday. Originally this tradition to make a loud noise may go back to magic-celtic heritage to protect themselves with noise against bad magic.

Easter ratschen

The so called “GONESLAUF” is a kind of game between young teens in a certain region of Salzburg (called Lungau). It should indicate the end of the easter weekend and is usually played on Easter Monday.

They build a line and the couples are behind a guy who is single – this one is the so called “Gones” (male goose) who has to meet his girl. Then he shouts “Gones, Gones, Kikeriki, des lithe Paarl her für mi” and the last couple in the row has to run away and the Gones tries to get the girl of this couple for himself. If he is successful the other guy has to take over his role to catch a girl as “Gones” otherwise the old “Gones” has to try as long as needed to get his girl.

This tradition has been celebrated in the Lungau for centuries.

So we hope you have the time to enjoy Easter in Salzburg or Austria and get in touch with our traditions and legends in our country. Enjoy spring time and the blossom of our wonderful fresh green and florescence.

See you soon at Be Special Tours! Greetings to all of you!



Salzburg Easter Festspiele

Salzburg Easter Festspiele

Salzburg’s Easter music festival already for over 50years

The easter music festival in Salzburg was foundet 1967 by Herbert von Karajan. This year the festival celebrates its 50th anniversary. Every year new opera productions and some few concerts are brought to Salzburg or started newly. The festspiele last for ten days and has the status of the most elitist festival in the world. It is in organisation and in financial matters completely independent of the Salzburg music Festivals in Summer or Whitsuntide.

From the year 1967 till 2012 the Berlin philharmonic orchestra was the leading music center of the festival. The main location has always been the big opera house in Salzburg and also the concerts in the Mozarteum and – that is a speciality – in the bar republic. The republic is a location for young people with restaurant and bar and also offers a variety of cabaretts and concerts and at Easter it is part of the festival location. The easter festival in Salzburg was the only place in the world where the berlin philharmonic orchestra played opera (except some co productions) and they also founded by Claudio Abbado a line of chamber music concerts called „Kontrapunkte“.

Salzburg music festival house

Starting with Herbert von Karajan in 1967 they played big operas like „The Walkyrie, Siegfried, Fidelio, Twilight of the gods, Tristan and Isolde, La Bohème, Lohengrin, Il Trofatore, Parsifal, Carmen, Don Carlos, Don Giovanni, Tosca“. After Karajans death they played „Fidelio, Le nozze di Figaro“ before in the year 1992 Sir Georg Solti took over the oar with „The wife without shadow, Falstaff“.
In the year 1994 Claudia Abbado started to organize and played then „Boris Godunow, Elektra, Otello, Tristan and Isolde“ and so on.
2003 till 2012 Sir Simon Rattle organized the Easter Festival and his big operas were “Fidelio, Cosi van Tutte, Salome, Carmen, Siegfried, The Walkyrie“ a.s.o.

Herbert von Karajan

In the year 2013 also the orchestra changed – now the Staatskapelle Dresden is the main orchestra in the Easter Festival and Christian Thieleman is organizing the festival opera. He already staged Parsifal, Arabella, Otello and in the year 2017 to celebrate the 50years anniversary they are staging The Walkyrie from Richard Wagner again. Completely different from the stage than in 1967, but the same opera with some special highlights. They are using the same set made by Günther Schneider-Siemssen in 1967, and Vera Nemirova directs a new staging.

And also 2017 for the 50 Years Easter Festival Celebration they have two guest orchestras – The Berlin Philharmonic (Mahler’s Sixt Symphony) and The Vienna Philharmonic (with Beethoven’s Ninth).

easter festival Walkure opera

What is really eyecatching that the Easter Festival has nearly 92% own capital covering through membership and sponsors the Festival. Only 8% are coming as subvention from the public authority. This is going back to the founder Herbert von Karajan who sold fixed places only for people that are sponsors of the Festival (price for sponsor: adult 300€, teens: 50€) and only as a sponsor it is possible to buy the ticket for a opera show and three concerts. For a short period of time it is possible to get tickets without membership. One of the cheaper tickets (between 5-50€) are the ones for the chamber concerts – this is also our tipp of #bespecialtours.

A small side-note: – where a lot of money is located also a scandal was near – in the year 2009/2010 they was the reasonable suspicions of deception and also defalcation. As a consequence the organization, structure and the personal has been changed in the year 2010. The “Easter Festivals Salzburg GmbH“ is now also owned by the City of Salzburg and the Country of Salzburg as shareholders to undergo the rule of publication by the state.

We hope you take the opportunity on your visit in Salzburg to hear one of the concerts or of being one of the lucky ones with a ticket for the opera! We wish you a nice and pleasant stay in our wonderful city and hope you enjoyed the trip into the world of music. Best regards Be Special Tours!

Eagle’s nest road

Eagle’s nest road

Street to the Hitler’s Eagle’s nest – a unique road with a special history

A street to a mountain-top restaurant can be nice and fascinating if you include a great view but sometimes a street can be a symbol to time. In this blog we will talk about the unique street leading up to the eagle’s nest on top of the mountain Kehlstein. It was Hitler’s eagle’s nest a tea house in the Bavarian Alps, that as given as a present by Martin Bormann to Hitler’s 50th birthday in the year 1939.

I will not tell you in the following a lot of details concerning political things and mythology behind this street and what happened in the third reich but more about this wonderful mountain road and why we can still see it and enjoy it.

on the angel's nest road

a fascinating road to the Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest

This road is not only a fascinating road in the mountains but it is also a symbol to this time before the second world war. In the year of 1936, Hitler wanted to expand his summer residence. Since it was not possible to finish it in time, he asked Martin Bormann to help him and that gave already the further steps to give to Bormann more rights and more power.

Martin Bormann decided to make something special to Hitler since he knew that Hitler loved this area. it did not only remind Hitler to his childhood but also he knew that something special needed to be done for Hitler’s birthday for his 50th anniversary.

The idea of Martin Bormann was it to build a house on the top of the Kehlstein so that Hitler could enjoy his area even better, take the views over all of the mountains of Berchtesgaden.

But why building up a house on the top of the mountain with a road that is very much exposed, built with 5 tunnels and one hairpin bend and for someone that is afraid of heights?

Well, simply: Hitler loved this area and since the possibility to do something for hitler was limited, therefore Martin Bormann decided to construct it on the top of the mountain because he saw hitler as being also on top of everything. Not only of the political party but also on the top of the world. This is the meaning behind the Hitler’s eagle’s nest and Martin Bormann did everything to realize his plans. He talked to investors, to financial advisors and then the final decision was made to construct it. The money came mostly from some “black accounts” (offshore accounts) because the construction of the road and the building on top the mountain costed over 156 Mio. €. But it was not only a simple construction. It was a masterpiece of engineering to construct this road and gave jobs to over 3.200 workers in the area for 13 months.

Hitler's eagle's nest

Still during the construction a lot of people were happy to have a job. In the region were more than 20% of the workers unemployed, or laid off. The people in the region were happy to work at this very bold project.

To build this road was not easy and very dangerous. Lots of people walked every day up to the mountain to build one small bridge, 5 tunnels and cut out the road by TNT, dynamite and hand-work. Helmets were not used very often and if it was raining it was even more dangerous to construct.

Some stories tell about people being tortured to work on this road and that prisoners had to help to construct this road and the eagle’s nest. As far as documents that have been found about this road, it is proofed that prisoners were only used to help to finish the building in time and during it’s operation during the war but never during the construction. Also nobody was killed or tortured to work on this project on purpose. Unfortunately there were accidents and people died during the construction of this project but mainly due to the fact that the workers did not protect themselves. 4 people died during a truck accident (a truck slipped down driving the road up wit 4 people in it an fell down for over 300ft.). The rest were either killed by falling rocks or that they fell down.

Still nowadays the road and the eagle’s nest can be visited. The road has been opened in the year 1952 to the public but immediately been regulated due to too much private cars. The community of Berchtesgaden contracted the local bavarian state bus company to organize public buses up to the eagle’s nest and one turn-out point was constructed to make the public transportation possible and save. The drivers are undertaking every year a special driving test and the buses are specially equipped (by a special transmission to avoid brake’s heat).

Every spring and during summer time regular checks of the mountain has to be done in order to avoid rocks falling on the road. In the winter time the road is closed to a high risk of avalanches.

The road is only opened to the public after all checks and clearings have been done. It is open always in the first half of the month of May until the End of October. Still even in the summer it can happen that the road has to be closed due to heavy rain, or snow and the safety for the passengers cannot be guaranteed.

tunnel to the eagle's nest elevator

Drive with us up to the Eagle’s nest and learn more about this spectacular place full of stories and history. We are looking forward to meet you here in Salzburg. Best regards and a good travel Be special tours!


150years Sachertorte

150years Sachertorte

The famous Sacher cake has been around already for over 150years

The history of the Sacher Torte starts with the order of Prince Metternich in the year 1832. He wanted his court kitchen to create a special dessert. “But don’t be a disgrace to me, tonight!” he said. Unfortunately – or in this case – luckily the chef was sick that night and so the 16-year-old apprentice Franz Sacher in the second year (1816 to 1907) got his chance. According to the high desire of Metternich Franz Sacher created the basic shape of the Sachertorte.

making of a Sachertorte

The cake was loved by all who tasted it. But the cake was not given any further attention. Years later – in 1848 –  a deli was opened by Franz Sacher in Vienna with a wine shop. His eldest son Edward (1843-1892) made his apprenticeship in the “Hofzuckerbäckerei” Demel (pastry of the Kaiser) and completed during his time at Demel the composition Sachertorte as we know it today. The Sachertorte was offered first by the Hofzuckerbäckerei Demel. Then Eduard founded in 1876 the Hotel Sacher and offered the cake of his ancestors and himself in the Hotel & Coffee Sacher.

package of a Sacher cake

In the years from 1938 to 1963 – with interruptions – the use of the trademark “Original Sacher-Torte” was controversial between Demel and Hotel Sacher. They agreed a settlement out of court. The Hotel Sacher was granted the right to use the name “Original Sacher-Torte” while Hofzuckerbäckerei Demel named their Sachertorte with a triangular official seal with the inscription “Eduard Sacher-Torte”.

Sacher menu in the cafe

The Sacher Torte at Hotel Sacher in Vienna the “Original Sacher-Torte” and the “Demel’s Sachertorte” differ mainly by their jam layers. The “Original Sacher-Torte” has two jam layers below the chocolate coating and in the middle of the dough while “Demel’s Sachertorte”, which is still produced in the Hofzuckerbäckerei Demel, has only one jam layer below the chocolate coating.

More about the history of the Sachertorte, different recipes, its importance for Vienna and the dispute between the Hotel Sacher and Demel Hofzuckerbäckerei you will find on several sites online.

Also for your attention the following article over the 150 years celebration of the famous Hotel Sacher in Vienna 2016! 150 Years Sacher Torte Salzburg

the Hotel Sacher of Salzburg

And of course! You will find the original Sacher-Torte in Salzburg and Vienna because here are the two Hotels located. Of course you will find in these locations the typical wooden boxes with the branding of the Sacher Torte and can buy it every where in the whole world at (Sacher Online Shop). If you love the taste of chocolate, you have to try the torte! And of course it is so typically for Austria like the Apfelstrudel or the Sound of Music Movie. Enjoy and taste it! Greetings from be special tours 🙂

260 years of Mozart in Salzburg

260 years of Mozart in Salzburg

Mozart’s birthday: 260 years

All the best! This is definitely a year of celebrations in Salzburg! Not only Salzburg’s 200 years in Austria, also 400 years Hellbrunn Palace celebrations and exhibitions AND of course 260 years’ Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart! 260 years ago, the musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, in the Getreidegasse. He also lived in the so called new town of Salzburg before he left to Vienna.

Happy birthday, Wolferl! Rock me Amadeus – Celebrate composer’s lifetime. This time we all celebrate it with gifts, candles or champagne. An important part of these festivals make the customs and traditions that have evolved over the decades. But how actually looked a typical celebration in Mozart’s lifetime in the year 1756?

Easter and Christmas tree in the 18th century

Easter and Christmas tree in the 18th century

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived in a time when most festivities were facing major changes, because the celebrations were increasingly romantic and sociable. A widely used celebration time in the 18th century was Easter. Even the Easter Bunny, the brightly painted and hidden the eggs, was already known. At the time, the hare was mainly a symbol of fertility and mindfulness. Until the late 18th century, it was also a common custom of the “Palm Donkey” must accompany the Easter procession: a decorated donkey, who carried the statue of Christ or were allowed to ride on the children.

statue of Mozart in Salzburg

The Christmas party was celebrated in Mozart’s lifetime already as a quiet evening with the family. Already in the 18th century they turned to Christmas trees and nativity scenes performed in their own homes. It symbolized a fir or a spruce in the home bringing life and hope. Unless it has been allowed from the family status, the children received presents from their parents.

Birthday celebration

Today’s birthday is a celebration that is very different all around the world. That was not always so. Until the 18th century, birthday celebrations were only reserved for higher social classes, the poorer ones were not able to afford the high costs. Even the musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was often in financial straits due to his way of life. An widespread tradition was to provide a cake with candles for the birthday child. The fire of the candles should originally drive away evil spirits and protect against misfortune or illness.

the mozart's birth room with personal items

Some of Mozart’s composements: Marriage of Figaro – Weddings at Mozart’s time

On August 4th, 1782 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart married at the age of 26 years Constanze Weber without parental approval. This was very unusual during these times. The wedding traditions were very different depending on the region where they were living as well as it is today. The festivities often lasted for several days and were committed with a sumptuous omitted wedding receptions and gifts. Also with a very well ornated bride, throwing a wedding bouquet and the giving of a dowry or trousseau. The marriage had a high priority in people’s lives and was particularly for women an important stage of life. Judging from the letters of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart after, the couple had a perfectly happy marriage. Constanze was a muse who inspired the composer Mozart in his work.

The focus is on the brilliant artist who escapes from a tyrannical-loving father and a family and social system of paternalism flees to unfold finally as a musician and a genius in music.

Mozart's signature

To remember him – Mozart Balls:

In honor of the composer genius the first Mozart Ball was done in 1890 – I am sure you remember the visit of Austria and the variety of different Mozart balls – of course – everyone is the first, the oldest, the orignal and so on. They are all unique compositions, which are known as theirs namesake as ambassadors of Austria, far beyond the borders of the country.

We definitely recommend to taste some of them and make your own choice which you like and take them with you home as a typical memory to Salzburg, Austria – b(e) specialtours!

Mozarttaler and Mozartballs

salt mines Bad Dürrnberg

salt mines Bad Dürrnberg

The Saltmines near Salzburg – Hallein

About 20 minutes away from the city of Salzburg you’ll find something very special in this area. Near Hallein, an old celtic city, you can visit the saltmine of Bad Dürrnberg. Right beside a small old celtic village (no we are not with asterix and obelix – that was in another part of Europe). Here on the mountain besides a sleepy church you can change your feeling and go back in time. Down under in the land of the minerals.

Salzwelten – salt mine Bad Duerrnberg

The Salinen Austria AG may be the oldest company in the world. Already 7000 years before the saltmines in Hallstatt were in use. As the Salinen Austria AG are still the only one allowed to take the salt out of the mountains, you can call them the oldest company.

Here on the Dürrnberg the actual entry ‘Obersteinbergstollen’ was opened in 1543. At the beginning you drive in with a train and the first meeting point with the prince archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau is 600 meters (ca. 1.800 ft.) in the mountain and 120m (360 ft.) under the earth. The mine has become Austria’s largest and the world’s oldest exhibition mine. Already in the 17th century visitors were authorized to see the salt mines.

a guided tour through the saltmines

The funniest thing for the kids will be the slide. Here you have the opportunity to use the same ways as the old miners centuries ago and have fun where they in former times had to do hard work.

saltmines with slide

The most impressive station will be for sure the salt lake which you’ll cross within the mine on a boat. Enjoy the feeling to ride a boat on 27% salt brine – more than the death sea – and enjoy the experience to be under day light. Go away from rain or fog outside and relax in a very well (natural) air conditioned area.

salt lake Salzburg

Of course, they have some surprises for you, which I will not mention here. Be sure, the guides are personal and individual and in english language you can enjoy the tour with funny correspondence without an audio guide. Best regards and a nice trip with Bespecialtours! See you in the mine!