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Intangible cultural heritage

Traditions, knoweldge, craftsmanship techniques  
Photo: © UNESCO/James Muriuki

National Inventory

Since Austria ratified the Convention, the Austrian Commission for UNESCO has been entrusted with creating a National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Austria. Thanks to their unique qualities, each listed tradition contributes to cultural diversity beyond the nation’s borders and conveys the richness of Austria’s living cultural heritage in an understandable manner.  
Applications are accepted throughout the year. For more information on the application process and the criteria for inclusion, click here.

Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Austria

Bad Mitterndorf Saint Nicholas Play

Bad Mitterndorf Saint Nicholas Play

The Saint Nicholas Play in Bad Mitterndorf is presented each year on 5 December at various locations. The play is acted out in indoor spaces as well as in the form of a procession. The performance was originally held in farmhouses and inns, but since 1959 the event has been presented on Bad Mitterndorf’s main square, thus making it accessible to a wider audience. The Saint Nicholas Play is made up of various figures that form a procession between the performance venues.
“Odlatzbia Oröwen” in the Wiesenwienerwald

“Odlatzbia Oröwen” in the Wiesenwienerwald

While the wild service tree ("Sorbus torminalis") occurs in many parts of Europe, it is very rare today and found for the most part only in woods. In Lower Austria, where the tree is referred to as “Odlatzbia” (High German: "Adlitzbeere"), the knowledge and handicrafts surrounding the “queen of the wild fruit” are passed on from one generation to the next. “Odlatzbia Oröwen” is the culmination of the work process that extends from the planting of the tree to the destemming of its fruit.
The Amras “Matschgerer”

The Amras “Matschgerer”

According to sources, the custom of the Amras “Matschgerer”, celebrated each year during the carnival season, dates back to the 17th century. This tradition, which has its roots in the village community, has been preserved to the present day despite the annexation of Amras by Innsbruck, the provincial capital, and urban influences. At the centre of the custom is, aside from the processions, above all the performances of the masked figures called “Matschgerer” before small audiences, with certain…
The Vintner’s Crown and the guardian tree in Neustift am Walde

The Vintner’s Crown and the guardian tree in Neustift am Walde

The customs of the vintners in the Lower Austrian town of Neustift am Walde date back to the reign of Empress Maria Theresa (1740-1780). The Neustift Fair is held annually on the feast day of the village’s patron saint, St. Roch, in August. The centrepiece of the four-day event is the festive procession of the traditional Neustift Vintner’s Crown and the erection of the “Hüterbaum” (“guardian tree”) after the special Holy Mass.
Stinatz Wedding - Stinjačka svadba

Stinatz Wedding - Stinjačka svadba

When they settled in the Southern Burgenland town of Stinatz/Stinjaki in the 16th century, Croats brought specific elements with them that, influenced by regional characteristics as well, made the weddings in this town a testimony to transcultural relations. The wedding custom combines orally transmitted traditions, such as the Stinatz dialect and folk songs, with traditional handicraft techniques like the production of the local (wedding) costumes. This custom illustrates the identity of the…
Kneipp therapy as traditional knowledge and practice according to the theories of Sebastian Kneipp

Kneipp therapy as traditional knowledge and practice according to the theories of Sebastian Kneipp

The Kneipp therapy (also known as “Kneipping”) is a traditional curative method that promotes the prevention of illness and the preservation of health. It is aimed at stimulating circulation, strengthening the immune system, and improving the vegetative nervous system. Kneipp therapy is a holistic method and encompasses five foundational pillars: Exercise, Nutrition, Water, Plants, and Balance. Classic Kneipping consists of multiple affusions of water as well as additional therapies including…
The craft of bookbinding

The craft of bookbinding

The knowledge surrounding the art of bookbinding was developed and passed on by monks in medieval monasteries. The handwritten books and their book covers were often elaborately decorated with gems and gold work. With the invention of book printing in the 15th century, the handicraft of bookbinding established itself as an independent trade, and this craft continues to be practised up to the present day with traditional means.
The "Fuhr" on Lake Hallstatt

The "Fuhr" on Lake Hallstatt

The wooden, flat-bottomed boats called "Fuhren" have a long history on Lake Hallstatt as a means of transporting goods and people. As early as the 13th century, following the reopening of the salt mine in Hallstatt, shipping on the lake and on the Traun River became necessary in order to transport the salt. Today, only very few people still have a mastery of this type of navigation.
The art and craft of stonemasonry

The art and craft of stonemasonry

For millennia, stonemasons have been responsible for the creation of countless religious and secular buildings and pass on their knowledge surrounding the use and cutting of stone, a naturally occurring raw material. Still today, the workpieces produced by stonemasons shape the appearance of many cities and towns.
Ceremonial Marksmen in Upper Austria

Ceremonial Marksmen in Upper Austria

The traditions of Upper Austria’s ceremonial marksmen are diverse and characterised by various regionally specific elements such as traditional costumes, the "Schützentanz" [Marksmen’s Dance], and special marksmen’s terminology. The practices in which they engage follow the annual calendar’s sequence of religious and secular celebrations. Marksmen’s traditions are hence an important element of regional identity for the communities of people who practice them.
In d’Grean gehen – An Outing in the Greenery

In d’Grean gehen – An Outing in the Greenery

On Easter Monday, the northern Weinviertel region’s winemakers invite people to the various cellar lanes ("Kellertrift") for an “outing in the greenery” (referred to as "in d’Grean gehen" or "Grean geh") to enjoy food & drink. This particular type of outing, which is practised in several of this region’s communities, is characterised by regionally specific religious and secular elements.
"Jauken" – A Traditional High-Flying Pigeon Sport with a Viennese Breed of High-Flying Pigeon

"Jauken" – A Traditional High-Flying Pigeon Sport with a Viennese Breed of High-Flying Pigeon

The term "Jauken" denotes the breeding, training, and competitive flying of the Vienna long-faced tumbler, a high-flying pigeon breed. The knowledge and practices relating to this tradition’s special form of pigeon breeding, keeping and caring for the animals, the applicable rules, and local dialect expressions are passed on from generation to generation through visits to breeders, at exhibitions, and within the breeders’ associations in Vienna and environs.
"Ladumtragen" – The Winemakers’ Guild Chest Procession in Mistelbach

"Ladumtragen" – The Winemakers’ Guild Chest Procession in Mistelbach

The Mistelbach Winemakers’ Guild (Mistelbacher Hauerzunft) was founded in 1698 as an interest group of independent winemakers. Its original purpose was to ensure the observation of rights and standards as well as to regulate both ethical and social matters within its community of members. The originals of this guild’s deed of foundation and other founding documents, seal, certificates, protocols, and membership books are kept in the "Hauerlade" [Winemakers’ Chest]. Since the establishment of the…
The Culture of the Viennese "Heuriger"

The Culture of the Viennese "Heuriger"

"Heuriger" culture encompasses social practices surrounding the Viennese "Heuriger" taverns, which are predominantly family-run businesses that are handed down from generation to generation. The Viennese "Heuriger" at the edge of town stands for congeniality ("Gemütlichkeit") and Viennese music. On the simple tables at a "Heuriger", one typically sees wineglasses and slices of bread with various spreads. While all "Heurige" share certain characteristics such as the free choice of opening times…
Quill Embroidery (Restoration, Further Development, and Use)

Quill Embroidery (Restoration, Further Development, and Use)

Quill embroidery is a special technique of ornamentation that was developed over 200 years ago and experienced its heyday during the 19th century. To this day, this special technique—which requires years of training and practice—is used in the production and restoration of traditional "Tracht" garments. The types of items that it decorates include women’s and men’s belts, handbags, broad and elaborately ornamented "Ranzen" belts (derived from money belts), and wallets.
Sweeping, Climbing, Roughcasting, and Burning Out Creosote in Chimneys

Sweeping, Climbing, Roughcasting, and Burning Out Creosote in Chimneys

Climbing ("Beschliefen" [slipping through/up] or "Besteigen" [climbing]), sweeping, and roughcasting chimneys as well as conducting controlled creosote burn-outs are manual working techniques practiced by chimney sweeps that were already in use by the 17th century and still see professional use today all across Austria. The working techniques of chimney sweeps are closely tied to social rituals that stand symbolically for good luck.
Local toponyms in the federal province of Tyrol

Local toponyms in the federal province of Tyrol

For over 2,000 years, local toponyms have facilitated orientation and communication for people living in Tyrol. The transmission of knowledge regarding names and locations is ensured via people’s presence in these locations, the work they do on land that supports their livelihoods, and their experiences as well as their maintenance of social relationships, as part of which such names are frequently mentioned. The approximately 120,000 place names used in Tyrol’s nearly 300 municipalities were…
The “Steyrer Kripperl” nativity play

The “Steyrer Kripperl” nativity play

The Steyrer Kripperl is one of the German-speaking world’s last remaining plays for rod puppets. It has been performed for over a century in a permanent location, the building known as the Innerberger Stadl, during the Christmas season by over 20 members of the association Heimatpflege Steyr. This practice involves orally passed down texts performed in the dialect spoken in Steyr and original rod puppets that are manipulated by hand.
Round Dancing on ice in Vienna

Round Dancing on ice in Vienna

Round dancing on ice is an on-ice version of ballroom dancing performed on Viennese ice skating rinks within a defined dancing circle. Anyone who possesses the necessary skills can participate, and there is no fixed set of rules. The various sequences of steps can be freely adapted to the rhythm of the music being played, and people dance in couples or in larger groups with alternating partners just like at a Viennese ballroom event.
Improvisatory theatre on the Tschauner-Bühne

Improvisatory theatre on the Tschauner-Bühne

The Tschauner-Bühne, known as Europe’s last remaining stage devoted to improvisatory theatre, is located in Vienna’s 16th district. Every day from June to September, this open-air venue hosts what are effectively world premières. While its improvised plays are based on rough models (some of them centuries old), it is the actors who develop their actual roles and dialogues on their own through their interactions with each other onstage as well as with the audience. This makes every single…
Traditions of the miners and iron smelters along the Steirische Eisenstraße (Styrian Iron Route)

Traditions of the miners and iron smelters along the Steirische Eisenstraße (Styrian Iron Route)

The cultural heritage of mine workers, who have their own special dances and songs as well as their own traditional costumes for holidays and celebrations, developed over many centuries along the Steirische Eisenstraße (Styria’s segment of the Central European Iron Trail). This heritage lives on today in the still-active mining region near Styria’s Erzberg (Ore Mountain) and reflects the region’s identity. Present-day practices centre on the feast day of St. Barbara (patron saint of miners),…
Candlemas singing in southern Lower Austria

Candlemas singing in southern Lower Austria

Candlemas singing is a cadging custom practiced in the night between 1 and 2 February (Candlemas) in around 20 communities in southern Lower Austria; in each of these communities, one or more groups of singers go from house to house, bringing their felicitations. The house residents thank them afterwards with food and drink and/or monetary donations, which in many places now go to charitable causes. A Candlemas feast is then held during the following few days.
Flag-throwing in Neckenmarkt

Flag-throwing in Neckenmarkt

Flag-throwing in Neckenmarkt is a centuries-old practice carried out above all on the Tag der Fahne [“Flag Day”] and on Umgangssonntag (the Sunday after Corpus Christi), but also to mark other celebrations, in the community of Neckenmarkt. Knowledge concerning its conduct (spoken formulas, flag-throwing technique, role distribution, etc.) is passed on from one generation to the next within the Burschenschaft [local fraternity] responsible for the practice as well as within the general community.
Traditions of the Untergailtaler Kirchtag and traditional costumes in the Untergailtal / Zilski Žegen in Ziljska Noša

Traditions of the Untergailtaler Kirchtag and traditional costumes in the Untergailtal / Zilski Žegen in Ziljska Noša

The type of kermesse fair that take place annually between May to October in numerous communities of the Lower Gail Valley is known as the Untergailtaler Kirchtag / Ziljski žegen. These fairs consist of three main elements: the traditions of going to church, the horseback game Kufenstechen / štehvanje, štehvanje and the Lindentanz / prvi rej [Linden Dance]; the body of relevant autochthonic songs; and the valley’s traditional costumes (Untergailtaler Tracht / Ziljska noša) that are worn by young…
The cattle offering on Saint George’s day

The cattle offering on Saint George’s day

The cattle offering (Viehumtragen) is a votive custom that has been practiced on 23 April (St. George’s Day) at the parish of St. Georgen in the Pinzgau region since time immemorial, being handed down from generation to generation. In this practice, carried out immediately prior to the beginning of the summer alpine pasture season, the agrarian populace (referred to as the Viehleut, lit. “livestock people”) asks St. George for good fortune (Reim) for their cattle by placing selected animal…