Austria: the Christchild comes in the evening

Holiday: Christmas.

When? 24th December.

Its meaning. The most important Catholic holiday: the birth of Jesus Christ.

How it's celebrated. On Christmas Eve, December 24, Austrians celebrate the birth of the “Christchild”. Candles burn, people exchange presents and sing Christmas songs (the most popular are „Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!“; „Alle Jahre wieder“, „Leise rieselt der Schnee“, „Oh Tannenbaum”).

So many things happen at Christmas in Austria!  There's church attendance (Midnight Mass), Christmas trees, Christmas markets with mulled wine, cookies, smoking with incense in the house and barn, visiting relatives, donating money for charity, making music and decorating the house.

Family traditions. Silvana Bramo, a housewife from Villach, says: “Since we have children, Christmas has acquired a greater importance in our lives”. Usually she celebrates Christmas in an intimate family atmosphere with her husband and two daughters, 2 and 4 years old. Silvana continues: “We prepare gifts for each other and rejoice particularly simple things such as songs, candles and a rural decorated Christmas tree from our own forest. Before Christmas Eve we go with our children in the snowiest forest and look for a tree which has too little space to grow up. This is our cherished ritual”.

At home the family Bramo has a homemade wooden Christmas crib. Lisa and Mara like it very much and play with the nativity figures with great pleasure. The Christmas dinner is in the husband’s family tradition: there are homemade vegetable mayonnaise, celery salad and fried chicken, a cheese plate for this, delicious sauces and of course cookies.

“For me personally the most wonderful thing in the Christmas is the time with my family”, Silvana notices. “At Christmas my husband can work less and we enjoy every minute, especially with our daughters”.


1. Christmas is Lisa and Mara Bramo's favourite holiday.

2. Silvana Bramo bakes famous Austrian cookies: “Vanillekipferln”, “Linzer Augen”, “Kokosbusserln”, “Rumkugeln”, “Lebkuchen”.

Text and photos: Vita Vitrenko