|Over the next week in the lead up to Easter here’s some crafting, traditions to learn about and even a recipe to give your Easter some Austrian style.
Austria’s SalzburgerLand honours Easter above all other religious festivals and many areas uphold ancient traditions. Of all the provinces, Salzburger Lungau is the most loyal in perpetuating its historic customs, celebrating resurrection and the rebirth of nature. Read on to discover some of the rituals and how to make the customary Easter Pinze*.
Egg-dyeing (Grawirlacheier) goes back to the 12th century: many families throughout the region continue to use the traditional linen cloth soaked in natural dye**. Until the 20th century, red was the official colour. The eggs symbolise life and new beginnings. Red represents the blood of Christ.
In Saalbach, villagers place the Easter ham, painted eggs, bacon, bread and salt in a trug and take it to church on Easter Sunday for consecration. On return, the Eierpecken (egg-tapping) ritual sees family members knock their eggs together, along the lines of a conker fight, until a winner emerges and lunch begins.
Grossarl has its Mount of Olives & Passion of Christ choral tribute. From 8pm on Maundy Thursday to 4am on Good Friday, local farmers sing Easter hymns every hour on the hour. On Holy Saturday, the villagers take over, telling the Crucifixion and Resurrection story in song.
**GRAWIRLACHEIER – PAINTED EGGS – Lungau method
Gather fresh eggs on Maundy Thursday. Cover the Grawirlach (linen cloth) with red or brown onion skins, then layer chervil, crocus and primrose petals on top to create patterns. Wrap each egg tightly and fasten the ends. Hard boil (a dash of vinegar helps seal the dye). Instead of onion skins, use beetroot leaves for red, nettles for soft green, red cabbage for purple.
In the build-up to Easter, villagers across the 15 Lungau hamlets collect wood and build bonfire towers of up to 12 metres in height. On Holy Saturday they gather for a ceremonial lighting and the towers burn through to Easter Sunday. This pre-Christian tradition was consecrated as Easter Fire by the church in the 8th century in spite of St Boniface’s efforts to ban the practice. In 1797, the fires were useful in scaring off French invaders thinking they were under attack from all sides.
THE RATSCHER BOYS
On Good Friday and Holy Saturday, Lungau school children (Ratscher Boys) go from house to house singing a traditioanl rhyme and rattling their ratchets to induce residents to bribe them to shut up and go away with gifts of sweets, coins and/or a painted egg.
*EASTER PINZE – recipe
Osterpinze is traditional throughout SalzburgerLand at Easter: a delicious cross between bread and cake, most families have their own specially tailored recipe. This recipe is made with anise but it can be left out, sultanas can be replaced with other alternative dried fruits and alcohol can be replaced with orange juice.
|• 1tbsp of sultanas
• 1tbsp of rum
• 125ml white wine
• 1tsp of anise
• 21g fresh yeast (or 7.75gms dried active yeast)
• 125ml warm milk
• 70g caster sugar
• 1 medium egg
• 3 egg yolks
• 1 pinch of salt
• Zest of 1 lemon
• 500g plain flour
• 125g unsalted soft butter
|• Heat wine, stir in anise; infuse for 3 hours and sieve; warm the rum and soak sultanas for 2 hours.
• Dissolve yeast in 100ml warm milk; slowly add 30g of caster sugar – whisk until smooth – then add 80g flour; leave for 20 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
• Beat the egg, yolks, salt, lemon zest and remaining sugar into a foam; fold in yeast mixture, then the rest of the flour, milk, softened butter, sultanas and wine.
• Knead dough thoroughly; roll out on lightly floured surface, cover and rest for one hour. Repeat process.
• Line baking tray with baking paper.
• Divide the dough into three and shape into balls and place on the tray; brush with egg; rest for ½-hour.
• Use cooks scissors to cut a cross into each dough ball; brush surface again with egg (avoid the cut areas)
• Heat oven to 160°C and bake for 30 minutes.
For more information about the region visit: www.salzburgerLand.com