Want a sleep in on Dec 28 in Austria? Don’t forget to disable your doorbell!

Austria has so many traditions and customs, especially in December. One I haven’t mentioned so far takes place on the 28th.

So picture this – it is our first year of owning our house, I am on Christmas holidays ready for a sleep in, and before 5am on December 28th, the doorbell rings.

My instant reaction was panic. Who knocks at the door at such a time? Only police, right? Not that it’s ever happened to me… but I’ve seen it on TV. Hubby calmly rolls out of bed grumbling while I stay where I am, covers pulled up to my ears, heart pumping, waiting for the bad news.

And guess what it was?

Kids… chanting a rhyme… and slapping the adults who answer the door with branches.

Apparently called ‘Innocent Children’s Day’ – kids are encouraged to visit the residents in their neighbourhood at an absurdly early time in the morning to wish them health and happiness through chanting a verse:

“Schapp, schapp, frisch und g’sund, s’ganze Jahr gsund bleibn, nit klunzn nit klagn, bis i wieder kumm schlagn.” [“Snap, snap, fresh and healthy, stay healthy all year with no complaints till I come knocking again.”]

The background for this custom is no laughing matter, however – commemorating the child murders in Bethlehem – and hence the adults are ‘punished’ with branches. The punished adults accept the good wishes and send the kids off with sweets and a few Euros.

I’m all for keeping tradition alive, but not when it wakes me up on my Christmas holidays. So these days on the 28th our doorbell gets disabled. I have no desire to relive that panic 😉

2 thoughts on “Want a sleep in on Dec 28 in Austria? Don’t forget to disable your doorbell!

  1. Claudia Kronlechner January 2, 2022 / 12:27 pm

    I remember having the same reaction when I moved here…and a few days later the ‚Heiligen drei Könige‘ rock up singing carols and then members of the volunteer fire brigade go door-to-door collecting donations – happy holidays!

    • debbiekaye1980 January 3, 2022 / 4:10 pm

      Oh wow I’ve never had carol singers actually… I guess it’s a benefit of living on a dead end street!

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