It is unlikely that any of us will be seeing in the new year with a wild party this time around. All the same, many are longing for the end to an unusual and unsettling twelve months. For most this will be a cozy occasion spent with family.
In South Tyrol there are many traditions which will be affectionately observed, in compliance with all health and security measures, in the days surrounding the turn of the year.
Incense will be burned in many houses. The German word Rauhnacht refers to the twelve nights from December 21 to January 6, and comes from the word Rauch, which means "smoke" and it's a period to which many people still ascribe a certain mystical quality, even today. For the most part, it is on Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve or the evening of Epiphany (January 6) that frankincense or other incense is burned inside living rooms and work spaces around the home. Believers will accompany this ritual with prayers.
Many places observe the tradition of Neujahrsschreien on New Year's Day. This entails the children of the village going house to house, reading poems or distributing good-luck charms. In exchange they receive sweets or a small amount of money.
Between Christmas and Epiphany carolers make their way through the country. Children and young people dressed as the three kings Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar enter houses, singing carols or reading out poems. On door frames of the homes they have visited they leave behind a message containing the year and the letters C + M + B (Christus mansionem benedicat: "Jesus, bless this house"). This is part of a campaign carried out by the Katholische Jungschar (Catholic Youth Organization), who collect money for aid projects in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe.
A "normal" year in South Tyrol would also see fireworks, music, and exuberant parties to mark the turn of the year. Unfortunately, we will have to do without such celebrations on this occasion.
Nevertheless, we hope that the new year brings us a reduction in the number of coronavirus cases, so that we can finally reopen our hotel to guests in the near future, as planned.
On that note, the Volgger Family wishes you all a good start to the new year along with much
health, happiness and success for 2021!