Not only locals but also tourists know: When the bells of the leading cow ring out and the festively decorated animals make their way back to their home barns, one of the most beautiful seasons in the Alps begins. Every year, the Almabtrieb in Austria festively rings in the outdoor season.
When do you celebrate the Almabtrieb in Austria?
Austria has about 8.400 alpine pastures. Around Whitsun, they become home to around 51.000 dairy cows, 265.000 cattle, 9.000 horses, 114.000 sheep, and 10.000 goats. The animals spend their summer holidays at higher altitudes, eating fresh alpine herbs, letting the sunshine on their pelts, and at the same time caring for the landscape. While driving off the mountain pastures is often overlooked and is a rather unspectacular affair, driving down the mountain pastures is just the opposite.
Depending on the weather, it usually takes place in September. The animals are decorated with various utensils. Wreaths with colorful ribbons and bells are often found. The most splendid decoration is given to the leading cow. If a disaster has occurred on the mountain pasture or the farmer’s family has suffered death during the season, black wreaths or ribbons usually recognize this. In the presence of numerous spectators from Austria and abroad, the animals are driven from the alpine pastures towards the home barn. This tradition has been around for about 400 years. The night before the Almabtrieb is called “Gru Nacht”.
Why is the Almabtrieb celebrated?
In the past, the bells were supposed to drive away evil spirits and demons. Once the herdsmen and herdswomen had returned safely to the valley with their animals, their return was celebrated with a festival. Culinary delicacies from the region are always enjoyed. Music was also not to be missed. In the past, the end of the year was also celebrated by the farmhands. They received their money on this day and were naturally all the more in a celebratory mood as a result.
Even today, the Almabtrieb is a splendid event in many places in Austria. Numerous locals and visitors from abroad, come to witness the spectacle. And as always, you’re pretty lucky if you choose a VAYA resort as your home base for your autumn holiday. Because the Almabtrieb is also celebrated around our houses.
Once the animals are safely back in their stalls, the time begins when mountain bike fans and hiking enthusiasts have even more space to experience the most beautiful sides of autumn in the mountains. Don’t miss out and book your well-deserved time out in the Alps now.
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