Folk Customs/ September

September is not only a month of markets and feasts, but also of the return from the mountain pastures and partly already of thanksgiving (which, however, is often celebrated in October).

In the afternoon of the Sunday following the first of September (Ägidi-St.Giles’s Day) a fair, the "Wiesenmarkt mit Freyungaustragen", is held at Bleiburg (Carinthia), the Freyung being an old law-symbol for the right of holding fairs (it consists of an arm with sword and shield).

The same symbol plays a certain part at another "Wiesenmarkt", this time held around the 29th of September (Michaeli) at St. Veit an der Clan (Carinthia), It is the biggest local fair of Carinthia and one of the most important cattle-markets of Austria.

On the Monday and Tuesday following the first of September, Graz, the capital of the province of Styria, is the scene of the third "Fetzenmarkt" (rag-fair) of the year, called "Ägidimarkt".


Saint Rosalia

The third Sunday in September is the date of the "Rosalienkirtag" (Rosalia kermis) on the Hemmaberg (Carinthia). The veneration of the Saint in the grotto beneath the church has been attested since 1669. The water of the "Rosalienquelle" (Rosalia fountain) is said to be good for eye diseases, a healing power often ascribed to holy sources in the vicinity of places of worship.

The same Sunday is called "Kroatensonntag" (Croats’ Sunday) at the pilgrimage place of Maria Loretto (Burgenland), an important date for the Croatian minority of the Burgenland which is concentrated mainly in the villages of Siegendorf, Hornstein and Stinatz. The choice of this particular Sunday is due, in both cases, to the high veneration St. Rosalia enjoys among the Slavs (the Hemmaberg is situated in a part of Carinthia with mixed Slovenian and German speaking population).

Relatively near to this date, important for ethnic minorities, the Church has proclaimed the last Sunday in September "Ausländersonntag" (Foreigners’ Sunday) in order to promote mutual understanding between different cultures.

In the Vienna City Hall, a "Tag der offenen Tür" (day of open doors) is organized on the third Saturday of September (from 1966) to make citizens and guests of the city acquainted with the urban institutions, and to help surmount the barriers between citizens and the administration.


Return Of Cattle From Alpine Pasture

From the middle of September well into October we find an increasing number of customs related to the rural working-year, as for example "Almabtrieb" (return of the cattle from the mountain pastures) or "Erntedank" (thanksgiving).

The "Alpabfahrt" (return from the mountain pasture) with adorned cattle and accompanied by music takes place on the 14th of September at Egg and Hohenems (Vorarlberg), on the following day (15th of September) at Schwarzenberg (Vorarlberg) where a cattlemarket is held on this occasion. In Vorarlberg (in contrast to the other Austrian provinces) only male workers have been employed as cowdherds at the mountain pastures for 150 years, because the huge Swiss cheeses would have been too heavy for women.

On the fourth Sunday in September, a thanksgiving procession carrying a remarkable harvest crown and several statues moves through the pilgrimage place of Maria Luggau (Carinthia).

In Eben (Tyrol) a procession in honour of Notburga takes place on the Sunday following the 14th of September. Notburga is not a canonized Saint. Nevertheless, her local veneration has been recognized by the church since 1862. She worked as a maid on a farm, so she is always depicted in working clothes, bearing a sickle in her hand, She is mostly venerated by farm-workers, especially by the women, whereas the male workers as well as the farmers consider St. Isidore as their patron - a special procession on the first Sunday in July is devoted to him at Untermieming (Tyrol).


Photo: Almabtrieb