“I would like my Austrian Christmas as always …”
… sang the famous Austrian singer Wolfgang Ambros. Between you and me, who doesn’t think the same? At Christmas, in particular, many of us prove to be true creatures of habit as we all have our small yet special, favourite family Christmas traditions which have often been upheld over the generations and which we couldn’t imagine Christmas without! Hereby food and drink play a bigger role in Austria than one might think – people do, after all, come together not only when speaking but also when eating! The most important thing: to not only take time for one another at Christmas but every other day, too.
The 24 days before Christmas are the most exciting of the whole year – a countdown which is happily counted by young and old alike until the day of all days finally arrives. To pass this time many will be busy baking their own Christmas treats – for example, the well-known Vanillekipferl (crescent-shaped vanilla biscuits), Rum Balls and Florentines. You can also get busy in your “home bakery” and in the mood for Christmas by making Cinnamon Stars and, at the latest when you smell the wonderful Christmassy aroma of Gingerbread from your “biscuit workshop”, you will certainly be in the true Christmas spirit and know that the big family celebration is just around the corner. In this exciting, mystical and glittering Christmas period, Children, in particular, will often delight in the simplest of things. We are, therefore, only too happy to make gingerbread houses or stroll around our famous romantic Christmas markets!
Plenty of thought is, of course, also given to the Christmas menu – the reflective time of the year and Christmas Eve are the undisputed culinary highlights of the year. Whether the traditional Christmas carp, crispy Roast Goose or a piece of the Christstollen (typical Christmas cake) and/or homemade biscuits – nothing should be missing at Christmas as it is, after all, the celebration of love and everyone should enjoy themselves.
Finally, when the bells ring, the Christkind (traditional gift-bringer in Austria) with his blonde locks, wings and halo, will already have “flown” past and hidden all the presents under the Christmas tree which are sure to make the eyes of young and old light up! In many places people will sing or pray in front of the tree or partake in some other custom. And presents which come from the heart are ideally made with love. There is a good reason why small culinary treats are a popular present in Austria at Christmas. The time of surprises also involves baking in the kitchen. Every year there is, for example, the question of what to serve our loved ones as a welcome treat? Here we can recommend offering a tin filled with delicious Linzer Biscuits, Chocolate Dipped Biscuits and gleaming sugary pink, Punschkrapfen (rum-flavoured pastries) – which all promise something for all tastes. But, pssstt … don’t tell 😉! Presents must be kept a secret otherwise the Christkind won’t bring them!
Regardless of whether the Christkind is fast approaching, Santa Claus is getting closer with his presents or Rudolf’s nose is getting brighter, when the decorated Christmas tree and our homes all glisten and sparkle, we know…
…it’s Austrian Christmas time!