Easter in Austria is a lively affair, with bustling markets, poignant religious events and a grand choice of concerts to fill your evenings with the sound of music – all under a blanket of spring sunshine!
Austria offers a wealth of culture, cuisine, customs and traditions all year round, but never more so than at Easter, when each region has its own special events around one of the most religious occasions in its annual calendar.
Vienna’s main Easter Markets are held at Schönbrunn Palace and offer a wide choice of arts and crafts, decorated eggs and a delicious dose of regional cuisine, including wild boar sausages and steaming bowls of goulash. If you are lucky enough to be spending Easter in Vienna, a musical highlight is the OsterKlang series of concerts and operas at the Theater an der Wien.
In Salzburg, situated just over a one-hour drive from CLC Alpine Centre, the Mount of Olives and Passion of Christ Coral Commemoration perform from 8pm Maundy Thursday to 4am Good Friday, on the hour. This unique event celebrates a long tradition where the farmers and residents take to the stage to sing of the events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus and the joy of the resurrection.
Salzburg’s traditional Easter Market is held at the Open-air Museum, where you can try out egg decorating, stuff your basket with Easter treats, including smoked ham, cheese, sausages, honey and home-made bread, all sold directly by local farmers. Buy Palmbuschen bouquets at the market, consisting of colouful dyed wood shavings, various plants, ivy, fruits, holly and red juniper.
In the Alpine provinces of Austria, Easter fires are lit during the night before Easter Sunday in a tradition dating back to Pagan times. People meet around the fires to sing, dance and make merry while effigies of Judas Iscariot burn.
On Easter Sunday, the 40 days of fasting for Lent officially come to an end and Austrians tuck into a traditional Easter feast, often including roast ham with potatoes and sauerkraut, garlic or spinach soup and Easter lamb, Osterlamm, which is a ‘lamb-shaped’ cake, very popular with younger members of the family and made of eggs, sugar, vanilla, flour and lemon.
Easter eggs are a big deal in Austria and there are usually two kinds – the decorative ones and the chocolate ones that you eat. The decorative ones are real eggs which have been carefully blown out beforehand, so they are a hollow shell. After the eggs are colourfully painted and decorated they are hung in windows, and on plants in the house.