So where's the snow?

Muddling through in Austria; God, life and a small black dog


Out with the girls…….

I’d made one outing with the Trachtenfrauen as I’ve detailed but really wasn’t too happy with my Dirndl and the ceremony.  So I waited until the Swapmeet in September where second-hand outfits are for sale.  I was there for nearly three hours struggling into different dirndls. I found one genuine Lungau but it was 250 euros, not quite my budget!  In the end I settled for one with a red bodice for 60 Euros, not the real Lungau one with black decoration but one that is a fairly common design. I even lashed out on a jacket, which was a wise move as the next outing was cold and windy.

This was the 20th party for the Ramingstein Samson, there wasn’t a lot of marching but all the Lungau Samsons were there and had a dance. There was the usual men of the village fighting for the microphone and blithering on, then we went to the local pub, where the schnapps and beer began to flow. I tried to buy a round, honestly, but never got a chance! It was a great time to chat and get a bit wobbly. I also found out that our group is only two years old – hey a new tradition!

The next outing was Harvest festival, and they had the cannon out again, shredding my nerves.  We had a service in the church, with gifts taken to the altar, and another march around the village and back to the church.  The Priest again carrying the Monstrance right in front of his nose.  Then back to the Pub garden and more microphone snatching.  It was nice that as part of the festival, all those who had round Wedding anniversaries were remembered. Trouble is, Austria has been hit by the Data protection idiocy and may not be allowed to reveal these highly personal details in the future.

Julie Andrews eat your heart out!

We then had the David and Goliath fight played for us.  As far as I can see, this is to encourage people that the little man can win.  They must have had the same lad for several years but he had grown and was as big as Goliath.  We all fell about laughing when he completely missed Goliath with his  Bommyknocker and shouted ‘Scheiss’ forgetting his microphone!

Then the Volkstanzgruppe had a dance, similar to our Maypole dance.  Another great event, Dave took loads of photos which I sent to the secretary who was thrilled as it’s not often there’s a shot of everyone together as she takes the piccies. Our next outing will be Icestockshiessen in January.  Maybe Dave will join the group as photographer, but he’ll have to wear a dirndl!


Travel Theme; Tradition

Couldn’t have been a better one for me, as this little part of the world, the Lungau in Austria (which is now a UNESCO  Biosphere reserve, what ever that means), is so steeped in tradition, most people have completely forgotten why they do stuff, but they still do it!

Our main claim to fame are our Samsons, a Catholic parade was created by a Priest to help people to increase their faith. The only other place to do it is in Spain.We have seven,and they come with tiny twins.

Samson carries his donkey jaw to fight with,  but most he does is a little twirling dance. But when you consider, it’s just one bloke inside, its probably just as well. Our Ramingstein one fell over the over year and hurt his nose -the guy inside had a little too much shandy, and they put his head back on the wrong way round, but the heads rotate, as we watched, it was quite spooky!

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Frohnleichnam or the Feast of Corpus Christi

Sometimes, I just don’t think things through properly. I’ve been so wanting to get to know people and mix in and thought the Trachtenfrauen was a good group to join.  They were great, even finding me a Dirndl that I can wear until September when there’s a big swop meet and I can get a traditional one.  All the week before the first outing, I guess I was freaking out a bit about wearing this thing in public – I am surgically attached to trousers, having fat legs and am life-long tom boy!   I even kept it secret from Dave so I didn’t have to put it on for him to see it beforehand, what a twit I am!!!!!

The day before, I thought, lets see what this festival is all about.  As I read, my heart sank.  It’s only about one of the main theological differences between Catholics and Protestants, what the dickens am I doing associating  myself with all this?  I’m on the local church PCC,  and I just cannot agree with this festival. It’s not even biblical, some saint wanted to celebrate the event of the first communion being made, and with all the fuss of Easter and Pentecost, asked the local Bishop who agreed to a Mass and Procession. When this Saint died, another asked for it to be extended to all the Catholic church and so it was.  It involves the Priest under a canopy trotting around the village to set points, holding a Monstrance with a host in front of his face.  I don’t think he can see where he’s going at all.  Being Austria, they also shoot the cannon as the priest prays.  Each station has a set reading from the gospels.  They also cart a statue of the Virgin Mary along, which is completely silly -she wasnt even there!  Linda told me earlier it had to be carried by Virgins who had to wear a special outfit…………

I was in a right state by the evening before, and went to Linda for advice.  Quite sanely, she said the group has helped you get the kit, you’ve said you’ll go and you must try it.  Test how you feel and what God is saying to you.  She is right, my neighbour in the group knows I’m Protestant. It was the right decision, so the next morning at 7.30, I was ready to go……….

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Lenten fasting


We decided this year  to fast from meat this Lent, just as a trial.  I’d always been meant to eat less due to the cholesterol etc etc.  So we did, and it turned out to be a non issue, neither of us missed it!  It was only a problem when eating out!  Someone asked me if I was experimenting with lots of tasty veggie dishes – no I wasn’t!  I only enjoy cooking when entertaining,and I like to throw something in the oven, and fish it out half an hour later with no effort on my part!  I found myself buying Veggie dishes,  such as fingers and schnitzels, and pre-made rice dishes. The Spar even had a new range of meat substitutes  – yuck, they were disgusting!  as Dave pointed out, why do you give up meat and then try to have things that are just the same?

So fast over, I don’t think we’ll go back to as much meat again, but we do like it. Spiritually it was a non event, but I did read my Bible more and pray more.  Dave now says next year we should fast from tv,  me the internet, and my kindle – and he and the cheek to say he’d just then listen to the radio.  Tad unfair I think!

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Wrong information!

Still plenty of ice about!

We were travelling around the Lungau on Easter Saturday admiring the different designs of the fires that were being built around the valley.  I think this year is the first when it has rained on the day.  One was done in a complicated twirl, another looked quite lopsided.  Then someone asked me about what I had said in a blog about the children coming around with the rattles being a way of warding off evil spirits.  So I checked up and in the book of Lungau Traditions, I stand corrected. The bells in the catholic church during the sad time from Thursday evening to Sunday morning, are turned off.  The bells fly to Rome (!), and so the rattles were to tell people the time!  So who fed me the false information, or was I privvy to some Lungau secret – is this how customs or  folklore start??????

You’d have also thought that we’d learnt about shopping here.  On impulse on Saturday we went to buy some outdoor carpet for our porch, at one of the biggest home furnishing shops. We wondered why we were served in such a hurry, only to hear an announcement that the shop was shutting at One o’clock for the holiday – how have we managed not to find this out in over five years -duh!!!!!!!!

PS.  I’ve just had the spirit thing confirmed by someone else, so its both!

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What the Lungau does in spring!

Easter graveyard

 The year in Lungau has its set events, part of its local tradition, of which people are proud, and I dont say that lightly!

Spring can tarry and we can be into May before we can do anything in the garden, orsomehtimes  the snow is gone by the begining of March. Its as if the plants have a timetable and rush to grow to catch up to a deadline of flowering and fruiting.


Palm Sunday is celebrated with more parades, and the children make a special bush on a stick from Pussy Willows and have this blessed. Easter comes with its the traditional fires, and the noisy rattles, as I’ve already talked about. The green party has been trying to ban the fires as when there’s no wind the valley is filled with smoke the next day as people use it as an opportunity to burn all their garden rubbish which they’re not allowed to do at any other time! This is followed by Mother’s day in May when every graveyard  is filled with pansies.  Dave’s garden centre sold 65, 000 last year and that wasn’t enough, that’s more than three per head of the living!   There’s the traditional Maypole, the one in Tamsweg is about 30 metres high and there’s no dancing to tangled ribbons rather a competition to chop another villages pole down!  The pole is  climbed by means of a rope and a small harness but mostly with sticky glue on the  hands and feet – oh and a small mat , in case you make a mess on the ground, H&S eat your heart out!

At the top of the Maypole!

Yet when spring comes and every where is filled with dandelions and blossom, it’s like heaven. The scent that rises from the small meadow below our flat is better than any scent I’ve sniffed!  Going back, April has the Georgiritt in Thomatal, he’s the patron Saint of horses, but there are other odd pagan things going on with bits of cooked pig being left in the church – cant get to the root of that!  There’s the band and the bullwhip creacking which seems to be over all Austria at these events, the horses really don’t seem to mind!

Resting after the Gerogiritt

May sees  the big riding festival at Schloss Moosham, more a  load of displays  from the local riding clubs as there’s no competitions as  such, I took part as a poor Icelander being attacked by Vikings for Lois’s talk on Icelandic horses………

One of the locals at the Burg Moosham festival

In early June the mountains are awash with flowers, a covering of paradise, and walking can really start for the year!