Folk Customs/ October
On the second Sunday in October the village of Zirl (Tyrol) has its kermis, and on this occasion the "Zachäussingen" (Zachaeus-singing, after the publican converted by Christ) is performed: Each stanza of the Zachaeus-song "O ye mountains, help us mourn the sinner’s downfall" is followed by a stanza of the song "Only once in my life I would like to see my native land again".
The formerly widespread custom is attested for Zirl since 1723. Singing songs of repetence like the Zachaeus-song was very common in the 17th century, the period of the Plague.
Saturday through Monday before or after the 12th of October (Maximilian), the "Maxlan-Markt" takes place at Niederwölz (Styria) with "Freyungaustragen" (as above, beginning of September), a procession and feast on the meadow.
October 26, The Austrian National Holiday
Many are the activities relating to the 26th of October, Austria’s National Holiday The Federal Museums are open to the public free of charge, the Austrian Open-Air Museum at Stübing near Graz (Styria) offers an "Erlebnistag" (with special attractions), and military music is played in various places. All over the country people take part in fitness-runs arranged by the Federal Sport Organization, following the example of the "Kennedy-Marches" that were inaugurated in the USA in 1963.
The significance of all these fitness and Marathonruns (in Vienna a spring marathon takes place in April) goes far beyond the purely physical aspects. Specialists in European Ethnology even see "fragments of a new popular piety" (Ronald Lutz) in the combination of nature-worship, body-consciousness and remythologization. Running has become a new salvation doctrine.
Photo: Zirl, Austria. Veit Mueller.