Culture & Customs in Bad Mitterndorf

The Salzkammergut is a refuge for traditional culture and customs.

Bad Mitterndorf has helped to preserve many of the customs, rites and traditions that have been lost in other places over the centuries. The visible proof of this can be seen in traditional clothes, dialect, craftwork and the variety of events throughout the year. These things are not kept artificially alive in Bad Mitterndorf; they are part of everyday life of the people of the region. Traditions maintained with joy, with love and with respect for previous generations and are happily shared with guests.


Traditional Nikolospiele, a morality play, on the 05 December

One of the most traditional customs in Bad Mitterndorf is the Nikolospiele on 05 December. The traditional plays in Pichl-Kainisch, Bad Mitterndorf and Tauplitz differ in many small details, but all are based on the "Everyman" story.
The Krampus are dark figures with handcrafted masks made by local carvers. They are always accompanied by the Schab, who, with their costumes of threshed, bound straw, guide the procession. The ancient stories they act out include a variety of characters and figures, and reflect the deep connection of the people with the region and with nature. An authentic tradition without kitsch or artificial staging. Our tip - watch a different Nikolospiel in Bad Mitterndorf  each year and try to see the subtle differences between the people in the different parts of the Mitterndorf Gemeinde.

Nikolospiel Bad Mitterndorf

For over 100 years the annual Nikolospiel has taken place in Bad Mitterndorf on the evening of 05 December (learn more in the local museum run by the Strick family). Over 80 men are involved in staging the traditional "Everyman"-play in various locations along the way from Krungl to the centre of Bad Mitterndorf.

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The original wording is still used today. The quartermaster, the night watchman and the ghost rider open the play. Bartl carries a basket of fruit and sweets, which Bishop Nicholas and the priest distribute to the children. In the Everyman play in Bad Mitterndorf the pauper dies, although he has confessed many atrocities to the priest he is not ready to show remorse and  repent. Death comes in the form of the Grim Reaper and stretches him out on the ground. The forces of evil, represented by two Krampusses, drag him out of the tavern. Bishop Nikolaus had previously preached to refrain from sins and to be good, he repeats his warnings and then leaves the audience in the room of the marriage demon. The demon tells them how he disrupts marriages and with his rhyming text he reflects on the lives of the old and the peasants. Although Lucifer (the fallen one) speaks of the wheat field, his main focus is on his many helpers. As the play unfolds pay attention to blacksmith and Habergeiß demon, and rest assured that the hunters have everything under control to ensure order.
A special feature are the figures made of straw, the "Schab". The Schab are created at the end of November from hand threshed straw. Their costume consists of a skirt, a top, a head and the horns (which are about 4 metres long). A Schab costume can last several years. Leading the procession they snap their whips to announce the arrival of Holy Bishop Nicholas with his dreaded entourage.
Although masks and fur must be replaced from time to time, the main characters have remained virtually unchanged for several decades. The masks and costumes can be seen at the local museum run by the Strick family.

Fresh and healthy ...

Every year on the 28 December the children go from house to house in the early morning. The day now known as the day of the innocent children was originally called simply "Fresh and healthy". The switch they bring is not used for punishment, but to bring happiness and health for the New Year. As a thank you, the children receive sweets and pocket money.

Nikolospiel Pichl-Kainisch

The origin of the Kumitz Nikolo group can be traced back to the end of the 18th century. In the early days, young men from the community dressed in sheepskin coats and fur hats with red tongues and roamed through the village on the evening of 05 December. This developed over time into a Krampus play which was performed in the local inns.

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The main roles are the priest and Holy Bishop Nicholas, who teach and caution the children and then give gifts from the white Bartel. The Messner, the night watchman, the hunter, the policeman and the Habergeiß are also part of the proceedings.  The Schab, who herald the Rauhnacht (twelfth night) with their whips, were a later addition. Without doubt the main attraction is the sermon by Lucifer with his two companions. His spontaneous lecture on the vices of humanity always enthrals the audience.
Today, the Krampus wear sheepskin heads with carved wooden masks and goat horns. The Lucifer wears a sheepskin head without wooden mask and has a painted red face.


In common with many other places in the Salzkammergut the children here take part in "Glöckln" on 05 January. Ringing a bell loudly at every house along the way, they call for "Glöckl doughnuts please". As a result, the children are given doughnuts, sweets and fruit. According to local tradition the Glöckler (bell-ringers) bring good luck.

© Tauplitzer Nikolospielgruppe (c) Tauplitzer Nikolospielgruppe | Wegscheider
Tauplitzer Nikolospielgruppe (c) Tauplitzer Nikolospielgruppe | Wegscheider

Nikolospiel Tauplitz

Every year on 05 December, the silence of the winter night in Tauplitz is interrupted by the loud ringing of bells and the crack of whips (the so-called "Goassln"). Shady figures move through the darkness. It is “Miglotog”, as St. Nicholas Day is called in this small mountain village.

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Every year Holy Bishop Nicholas parades with his entourage of light and dark followers from Klachau to the square in the centre of Tauplitz. About 60 people are involved in this spectacle. The Tauplitzer texts are some of the oldest in the country.

Men covered in straw, the "Schab" lead the procession heralding the Nicholas parade with loud cracking of their whips. St. Nicholas is an impressive sight as he rides his stallion (Nikoloross) to meet the children waiting in Tauplitz. The Everyman scene in the Tauplitzer Nikolospiel is a particularly popular performance. It features a rather ragged and alcohol-drawn man asking the priest to hear his confession. The shoe-maker (Schuster)  and tailor (Schneider) open the proceedings and Lucifer, the lord of hell,  with his dark companions finish this unique folk play.

The diversity of scenes and characters make this play something out of the ordinary.