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Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi 2017 and 2018

Corpus Christi, or body of Christ, is a public holiday in Austria. The Feast of Corpus Christi, as it is known, is celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday which is 60 days after Easter.

YearDateDayHoliday
201715 JunThuCorpus Christi
201831 MayThuCorpus Christi

Corpus Christi began when St. Juliana, a nun from Belgium, told the Bishop of Liege, Robert de Thorete, that she had a vision of a large festival to be held in his diocese. In 1311, 30 years after St. Juliana relayed her vision, Corpus Christi became an official feast day in the Catholic Church. Corpus Christi celebrates the body and blood of Jesus Christ and is included in the liturgical calendar of the Catholic church.

Traditions and Celebrations

Mass is held in the morning and the majority of residents attend. The service is elaborate with everyone in attendance participating. It is common to have children baptised at the Corpus Christi mass. After the service, there is a processional through the streets comprised of children who have just been baptised, organisations, community clubs and bands. Those in the processional carry flags and flower baskets before heading to the town square if there is one. In some towns, the streets are lined with hazelnut and birch branches so that it appears as if the processional is moving through a forest. In others, boats in the harbour are decorated with birch leaves and fresh flowers. In Hallstat, two boats are decorated and when the processional reaches the harbour, the priest and other religious officials board one boat while the choir boards another. They then sail toward the centre of the lake with smaller boats following them, singing hymns. Afterward, the procession may return to the church where a benediction takes place.

Corpus Christi in Perchtoldsdorf

The village of Perchtoldsdorf celebrates Corpus Christi ten days after the rest of Austria. Legend says that a Turkish siege delayed the celebration in Perchtoldsdorf one year while others insist that it is celebrated later because it never rains on that date, protecting the festival which is held outdoors. During the ten days between the official celebration and the Perchtsoldsdorf celebration the village brass band travels through the town, playing outside homes. Residents of the home are expected to make a donation and to supply the band members with wine. If the weather is cold, residents replace the wine with schnapps to keep the band members warm as they travel from home to home.