On every first Sunday of February at the church of Stein im Jauntal, the so-called "Agathe-Striezel" are thrown to the waiting crowds. The tiny, hard bread rolls are doled out by church singers and altar servers from a veranda of the Burgmeierei at around 10 a.m. This is a tradition that has been kept alive for more than 1000 years in this small village, which today is part of the municipality of Sankt Kanzian am Klopeinersee.
In fact, this tradition derives from an endowment for the poor, set up by Hildegard von Stein im Jauntal. The latter, blessed by the church, disposed during her lifetime, that each year a great feast for the poor was to be held on the anniversary of her death. For this purpose she donated to the church 18 farms, whose yields provided the financial substance of the beneficence. Depending upon the source, Hildegard von Stein died either on the 5th of February 985 or sometime in 1024. The tradition of distributing bread to the villagers (and visitors) of Stein im Jauntal remains alive, even into the present day.
Do you wonder why the Striezel aren't called Hildegard-Striezel? Well, the second Christian name of the beneficent founder was Agathe and this was most probably the name by which she was usually known. Also, the Agathe-Striezel have always been considered more than just a kind of food. The Striezel are said to possess special, magical powers and to bring fortune for the whole year to the lucky ones who succeed in getting one. Therefore you should not be surprised to learn that Agathe-Striezel are hard-fought-for trophies!
The Church of Stein im Jauntal, consecrated to St. Laurentius, stands on a steeply sloping hill from where you have a beautiful view of the surrounding villages. The church and the Burgmeierei are the only preserved remains of a castle that dated back to the 12th century but was demolished in 1761. In 1238 a miracle was reported in what used to be the chapel of the castle. It was then that the chapel became a parish in its own right.
Also of interest might be the fact that in 1996 Kiki Kogelnik, the Austrian representative of Pop Art, created a Totentanz or Dance of Death for the charnel house of Stein im Jauntal. Kogelnik's subject takes up the original function of this small building with its round exterior and octagonal interior, which served as an ossuary in the Middle Ages.
Furthermore, a way of the cross, created by contemporary artists, leads all the way up from the village to the church. It is an interesting joint work by artists residing in Carinthia, created in the early 1990ies. The respective station of the way of the cross was given, the realization of each theme however was open to the individual artistic expression of the artists involved, amongst others Kiki Kogelnik and Valentin Oman.
It's good to know:
Roman-Catholic parish of
Stein im Jauntal / Kamen v Podjuni
Stein / Kamen 14
9122 St. Kanzian/ Skocijan
Phone: 04239 / 2229
Service on Sunday, at 9:30 a.m.
Striezelwerfen around 10:00 a.m. (there will be a huge crowd).