December festivals: Advent in Austria

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By Karen Hart

Learn about Christmas traditions in Salzburg, Austria, and make an advent surprise jar.

Salzburg Christmas

Salzburg is the fourth-largest city in Austria. At Christmastime it looks the part, with snowflakes floating in the air, the scent of mulled wine and snowmen popping up left, right and centre. Nowhere looks more festive than Salzburg’s ‘Old Town’, with internationally renowned baroque architecture and one of the best-preserved city centres north of the Alps.

During advent, the ringing of church bells reminds us that Christmas is on its way, as you walk along the city streets, filled with the scents of gingerbread hearts, punch, freshly baked apples, hot chestnuts and almonds. At the beginning of December the squares and streets of the city are bustling with Krampus and Perchten runs. The shaggy, terrifying spirits parading through the streets symbolize Perchta, a pagan alpine goddess. If you touch them or get swatted, consider yourself lucky – they are thought to bring good luck!


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