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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

Bonfire Sunday

Bonfire Sunday

Bonfire Sunday ("Funkensonntag") is the first Sunday following Ash Wednesday and thus stands at the beginning of Lent, just after the end of the Carnival ("Fasnacht") period. As early as Fat Tuesday, the bonfire fir ("Funkentanne")—which, in some places, can be up to 30 metres high—is cut down. The construction of the bonfire ("Funken") itself begins on the Saturday immediately prior to Bonfire Sunday, with all of the materials collected by the bonfire guilds ("Funkenzünften") and volunteer…
Carolling in Heiligenblut

Carolling in Heiligenblut

Every year in the Carinthian community of Heiligenblut am Großglockner, in the night between 5 and 6 January, carollers ("Sternsinger" – lit. “star singers”) go from house to house bringing blessings to the inhabitants. Each carolling group (referred to as a "Rotte") consists of one star-bearer ("Sternträger"), five instrumentalists, and nine singers—all men aged 16 and older. Heiligenblut’s tradition of carolling, which probably dates back to the 16th century, has been preserved largely in its…
Local Healing Knowledge in the Pinzgau Region

Local Healing Knowledge in the Pinzgau Region

The traditional knowledge of healing treatments and their practical application possessed by people in the Pinzgau region was surveyed and documented in written form for the first time in 2005. The medicinal substances employed—such as pitch, mountain arnica, and St. John’s wort—are available locally, embedded in the cultural context, and hence inseparably linked with the region. The associated experiential knowledge is handed down orally and through actual practice in accordance with the…
"Hundstoaranggeln"

"Hundstoaranggeln"

"Hundstoaranggeln" on the mountain Hoher Hundstein in Pinzgau is an event featuring what is probably the oldest sport currently practiced in the Alps. The last Sunday in July sees hundreds of people make the pilgrimage up the Hoher Hundstein in order to experience this contest as spectators or as participants. It is said that "Ranggeln", a style of wrestling, is the Alps’ most honest contest of strength for men.
Classical Horsemanship and the High School of the Spanish Riding School Vienna

Classical Horsemanship and the High School of the Spanish Riding School Vienna

To this day, knowledge of classical horsemanship and the haute école on and above ground is handed down orally from one generation of riders to the next at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna and presented to the public in domestic and international horsemanship demonstrations. As part of this, the young cadets and assistant riders learn not only from their older colleagues but also from the school stallions themselves.
Bread-Making in the Lesachtal

Bread-Making in the Lesachtal

The tradition of bread-making in the Lesach Valley, especially in the communities of Maria Luggau and Liesing, encompasses the cultivation and preparation of grain in an Alpine farming region, the knowledge necessary to construct mills, and baking the bread in home ovens. These things go hand in hand with preservation of the valley’s cultural landscape as well as typical specialised dialect expressions.
Telling Fairy Tales

Telling Fairy Tales

Telling fairy tales consists in the art of entertaining people by conveying stories in a playful and intellectually stimulating way. The metaphors that fairy tales employ are so simple yet so subtle that they instantly connect all those listening by virtue of their comprehensibility while at the same time allowing listeners to go deeper and reflect in highly diverse ways.
Stove and Chimney Masonry in Burgenland

Stove and Chimney Masonry in Burgenland

The construction of brick industrial smokestacks and firebrick-lined industrial furnaces involves special techniques and artisanal skills. Stove and chimney masonry is prominent above all in the Burgenland communities of Neutal, Ritzing, and Sigless. The families in which this trade is practiced identify strongly with stove and chimney masonry, as do their villages as a whole.
The Austrian folk dance movement

The Austrian folk dance movement

The Austrian folk dance movement is rooted in the research and collecting activities of a number of people at the end of the 19th century and borrowed from rural traditions that have survived only in fragments. Simultaneously with the systematisation and recording of the various dances, the orientation toward characteristic Austrian dances began. These dances were not only collected and preserved for posterity; they were also increasingly taught and thus saved from extinction.
The Ötztal Dialect

The Ötztal Dialect

The dialect spoken in the valley known as the Ötztal is the strongest and most defining element of its inhabitants’ local identity. This dialect can look back upon a nearly 900-year tradition. Its use within families, at work, in school, and on official occasions (such as municipal council meetings, etc.) ensures that the Ötztal dialect is passed on from one generation to the next.
The The Vineyard Guards´ Procession in Perchtoldsdorf

The The Vineyard Guards´ Procession in Perchtoldsdorf

Every first Sunday following the feast day of St. Leonhard (6 November) witnesses Perchtoldsdorf’s traditional Vineyard Guards’ Procession (called the "Hütereinzug" or, in the local dialect, "Hiataeinzug"). It was once customary for winemaking operations to employ vineyard guards during the period when grapes grow ripe. Such guards, sworn in and paid for by the community, would spend several weeks living in small huts out in the vineyards to protect the ripening grapes from both animals and…
Salzkammergut Bird-Catching

Salzkammergut Bird-Catching

The tradition of bird-catching in the Salzkammergut region encompasses the capture of individual members of endemic forest species during the autumn, keeping these birds in aviaries following the catching season, and showing them to the public the Sunday before "Kathrein" (St. Catherine’s Day) in late November at the woodland bird show in which prizes are awarded for the birds judged most beautiful in terms of their magnificent colours, health, and state of care. In the spring, the birds—with…
"Samsontragen" in the Lungau Region and the District of Murau

"Samsontragen" in the Lungau Region and the District of Murau

The tradition of "Samsontragen" [lit.: carrying Samson] is a permanent element of this region’s traditional calendar and always attracts numerous onlookers. The period before and after Corpus Christi (referred to locally as "Prangtag") sees representations of the Biblical character of Samson—in the form of procession figures nearly seven metres tall and weighing up to 100 kg—paraded publicly with accompaniment by the local brass bands in 12 communities in Salzburg’s Lungau region as well as in…
Ceremonial Marksmen’s Guards in Salzburg

Ceremonial Marksmen’s Guards in Salzburg

Ceremonial marksmen’s guards serve as an element of local traditions all over the province of Salzburg. Although there exist massive differences from community to community, above all in terms of the weapons that see use (which range from traditional wooden rifles to hand cannons and full-sized canons), the responsibilities carried out by each marksmen’s guard organisation ("Schützenverein") in its respective community are very similar.
Forging in Ybbsitz

Forging in Ybbsitz

Metal forging has a very long history in Ybbsitz (Lower Austria). Certain forging dynasties, known as the “black dukes” (Schwarze Grafen) due to their skills and their outstanding wealth, have 200 year-old family traditions. The blacksmith shop of the Welser family has been within the family for 15 generations, for example.
Slovenian Field and House Names in Carinthia

Slovenian Field and House Names in Carinthia

Slovenian-language field and house names that have come down to us today represent an important source when it comes to understanding the economic, social, and linguistic developments that have taken place in the Austrian province of Carinthia. Not insignificantly, they also attest to the deep anchoring of the Slovenian language and culture in Carinthia.
Carollers in Tyrol's Villgraten Valley (Inner and Outer Villgraten)

Carollers in Tyrol's Villgraten Valley (Inner and Outer Villgraten)

Every year between Christmas and Epiphany, a traditional form of carolling can be heard in the Villgraten Valley. For two days, groups dressed in costumes made specifically for the occasion go from house to house and sing traditional New Year’s carols.
"Schleicherlaufen" in Telfs

"Schleicherlaufen" in Telfs

Approximately 500 men participate actively in the “Telfer Schleicherlaufen“ tradition (an event with costumes and dance that centers around Shrove Tuesday); a number of chronicles report that many families have participated in this tradition for generations.
Nebenleitung - Association for Mutual Assistance in Fire Emergencies

Nebenleitung - Association for Mutual Assistance in Fire Emergencies

Nebenleistung – Association for Mutual Assistance in Fire Emergencies (Verein für gegenseitige Hilfeleistung bei Brandfällen “Nebenleistung”) is a self-help organisation in St. Oswald im Yspertal, Lower Austria that provides help after fires in the region in terms of work performed as well as in-kind and monetary assistance. Its short-form name is simply “Nebenleistung” [lit.: Ancillary Benefits].
Vereinigte zu Tamsweg

Vereinigte zu Tamsweg

Vereinigte zu Tamsweg [roughly: Union of Tamsweg], the oldest continually existing association of working men in and around the town of Tamsweg in Salzburg’s Lungau region, was founded by craftsmen from the area as a burial confraternity in 1738. To this day, its members are present at burial ceremonies, take part in church processions, and hold their annual week of festivities known as the "Vereinigtenoktav" between 1 January and the Saturday following Ash Wednesday.
The Viennese Dudler

The Viennese Dudler

The Viennese-style yodeling is an important element of the local musical culture. Tootling (German Dudeln) is an important element of the Viennese singing culture. Its origins go back to the beginning of the 19th century, when Tyrolean singers’ societies toured European cities to introduce the population to the tradition of yodeling.