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EASTER

How to celebrate Easter like an Austrian

From cakes in the shape of a baby lamb to 'Green Thursday', Easter in Austria can feel a little different. Here's your guide to the festivities.

Easter egg decorations
ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP

Easter traditions begin in Austria in the weeks leading up to the big day, as shops and bakeries start to fill up with seasonal goods such as Osterpinzen (a kind of sweet bread roll), Schinken im Brotteig (ham in a bread crust), colourful hardboiled eggs and cakes in the shape of a baby lamb (Osterlamm). 

Here are some examples of what the Osterlamm might look like – and one of a pretty sad looking little lamb. 

For those unsure why a lamb-shaped cake should take centre stage this time of year, here is a brief explanation of its history and purpose during Easter time.

As well as looking cute, delighting children, and tasting nice, Osterlamm has a serious side.

There are lots of different Osterlamm recipes available online – most requiring a lamb-shaped cake form – but the ready-made version is also easy to pick up from certain shops in Austria.

The following link breaks down the Osterlamm and at least tries to answer why it is so important for Austrians. 

READ MORE: ‘Osterlamm’ and what it means to Austria

Decorations

Many people decorate their homes with an Easter centrepiece arrangements of Palmkätzchen (also known as Palmbuschen, Palmkatzln, Palmkatzerl or pussy willow in English) and decorated wooden eggs, though some people add other foliage to the decoration. 

Palmsonntag (Palm Sunday) is celebrated in Austria by the blessing of Palmkätzchen rather than palms.

An Austrian folk custom says that if you bury these blessed Palmkätzchen, they protect your fields from bad weather during the year.

Green Thursday

Maundy Thursday follows or Gründonnerstag (Green Thursday), as it is known in Austria. It is traditional to eat spinach and other green foods such as kale, herbs or salads on this day, hence the name.

On this day in much of Austria and also in Catholic areas of Germany it is said the church bells fall silent and “fly to Rome”, so children are tasked with making a noise with wooden rattles to announce the times of day and call for church services.

READ MORE: What does Gründonnerstag mean in Austria?

In some parts of Austria, groups of boys walk from house to house with baskets and their ratchets to collect eggs.

Good Friday

Karfreitag (Good Friday) is not really celebrated by Catholics and is no longer a public holiday for Protestants living in Austria.

Easter fires

The most elaborate Easter rituals in Austria are said to be in Styria and Carinthia, where   on the Saturday before Easter (Holy Saturday or Karsamstag) it is common to have a bonfire or Osterfeuer outside together with family and friends.

However, due to the coronavirus pandemic this year, there will be restrictions on traditional Easter bonfires. In Carinthia they will only be allowed in public between 6am and 8pm in Carinthia.

The number of participants will also be limited.

Traditional Easter bonfires will be restricted this year in Austria. Image: AFP

Easter Sunday

On Easter Sunday in Austria, children enjoy Easter egg hunts and a large Saturday dinner and/or Sunday breakfast with ham, coloured eggs, Osterpinzen bread and special cakes. Church bells ring out, having returned from Rome.

A popular game is Eierpecken (egg pecking), in which people bang coloured eggs together until they break. Then the winner has to eat the eggs. 

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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

How to dispose of unwanted furniture or whitegoods in Vienna legally

Got an unwanted mattress, fridge, or sofa? Here’s how you can legally get it off your hands in Vienna.

How to dispose of unwanted furniture or whitegoods in Vienna legally

If you find yourself with a large piece of furniture or big household appliance that has seen its prime and is not bound to the trashcan, then you might be wondering where to dispose of them – legally, that is.

Even if it is not uncommon to see furniture or appliances next to the big trashcans often placed near households and apartment complexes, it is illegal to leave them there.

Different cities have different methods – some will even pick up trash at specific times and places. To know how your city deals with bulky waste (Sperrmüll), you can google “Sperrmüll + the name of your city”.

READ ALSO: Why does Vienna’s waste department have a helicopter and a military plane?

Vienna has several waste collection points where you can leave bulky waste, electrical appliances, hazardous waste (in household quantities) and other old goods for no charge.

The use of the Wiener Mistplätze is subject to certain quantity limits and requirements, but they are to avoid industrial use. Therefore, most households will have no problem with the limitations.

Here you can find several collection points in Vienna.

It is worth pointing out that delivery to those sites can only be made by cars with Viennese license plates, on foot or by bicycle. Furthermore, no trailers or company cars are allowed to leave trash at these collection points.

What can you bring to the collection centres?

This is the place to bring large sheets of plastic foil, bulky or large metal parts and electrical appliances, for example.

Additionally, you can bring small amounts of bulky waste, wood, styrofoam, large cardboard boxes, green waste and used tires to any waste collection centres.

Depending on what you are disposing of, you might need to go to the Rinter centre, one of the larger ones.

READ ALSO: Hasta la mista, baby? How to vote for your favourite Vienna trash can joke

The centres also have a separate division where it is possible to donate old items still in good condition, the so-called 48er-Tandler-Box.

Tableware, small furniture, electrical appliances, clothes, toys and other items can be reused and bought at a low price at the 48er-Tandler reuse shop.

Most centres are open only from Monday to Friday during business hours, but others are also available on Saturdays.

What to do if I don’t have a car?

If you don’t need a car but still need to dispose of a large appliance, the Viennese solution varies.

Some will take public transport with a couple of friends trying to help them carry an old sofa via the u-bahn, although that can get a little tough at peak hour. 

Alternatively, you can borrow or rent a vehicle to try and save costs.

READ ALSO: The downsides of Vienna you should be aware of before moving there

But Vienna City also has a service that will pick up the trash for a low fee – even if it is located in the attic, a basement or a courtyard.

It’s the Entrümpelungsdienst und Sperrmüllabfuhr der MA 48. You can also ask for the “dump service” when the city of Vienna brings a trough (the smallest can fit 12 cubic meters).

Once you fill it up, they will remove it and take it to the appropriate place.

Costs will depend on the amount of trash, the size of the appliance, and where in the household it is located.

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