So where's the snow?

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


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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!


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Frohnleichnam or the Feast Corpus Christi – Part two

The morning started out a bit cold so I wore my Trachten jacket over the Dirndl, but when I arrived at the council place, most of the women had either the Festival Tract on which is black, or a dark shawl, I felt I stood out like a sore thumb, even though they said I looked ‘Fesch’ (smart).  I chatted to a friend who’d studied English with me, which helped my nerves.  I couldn’t lose the jacket having come in someone else’s car.  We then got ordered to line up, three abreast, starting on the left foot.  It was easy to follow the band up the hill to the church and we piled in.

The service wasa typical Mass, with lots of bobbing up and down – the Priest even caught the congregation out once and we did a quick down then up!  Loads of incense and clanging bells.  Sadducees I cried inside.  I just couldn’t do the dabbing of the Holy water, the bobbing at the pew end,the genuflection and crossing myself.  I was reminded of how Paul says not to offend those weaker than you in the faith and should observe their customs. Should I make myself as not part of something when I was actually taking part?  Or should I stand up for the long gone persecuted Protestants in the region who suffered for their faith by taking part in this thing but adhering to my beliefs? I don’t know.  When Communion took place I stood aside.  Its seems more effecient than our service  with no wine and a conveyor belt of hosts, quickly over to save time.  Deeply spiritual?  Hmmmmm. Once I calmed down about my bright jacket I managed to relax a bit.

Service over, we lined up outside the church and marched off behind the band and did three stops around the village.  Being on the left, I ended up being on the front as we turned to the left to make a line.  I could hear a couple of women going ‘left, right, no, right left’ behind me and wanted to giggle.  By the third stop, I stopped jumping at the cannon but still couldn’t do the crossing myself.  Maybe they would just put it down to my foreigness! I could agree with the prayers and did so, they were all based on the gospels and simply said Jesus s the bread of life and no more. We marched back to the church through the village where the Priest went back in the church and the Firebrigade, us, the brother hood all marched to the Pub!  I had my photo taken as the new mad foreign member and we all had a free drink.  The band was sitting with us and suddenly took up their instruments and played a polka – turned out you could request a tune.  My neighbour asked for one for me, and I was  sooooo relieved I didnt have to get up and dance! I chatted to others at the table, and then was quiet at others pretty much as I’d be in the UK.  Soon it was time to go and I felt like giggling as I said I can’t come next time as its our Protestant church service!

So I left feeling it was ok.  There was an assumption in all the readings that Jesus is the bread of life, and there was no dogmatic saying you must believe the host actually turns into his body.  I was accepted by the gang.  As tradition as compared to belief it was quite ok.  I think I’ll go again, Harvest festival I have no problems with and when I get the kit I can go with the gang to the more cultural festivals rather than religious. I think for most there, it was custom not faith here. Maybe its a way to make links between the two churches. Another Austrian experience under the belt!


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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……….