Austrian History, Customs, Traditions, Languages, Religious Beliefs


A glimpse at the customs, traditions, customs and history of Austria, a country in Central Europe.

The Republic of Austria is a country belonging to Europe, whose capital is Vienna . It has a population of 9 million inhabitants (96º) and an area of ​​83,879 km 2 (113º). Its human development index is very high (20º) and its official currency is the euro. But what language is spoken in Austria?

Austrian Languages


Austria has an official language , Standard Austrian German  .

However, the most widely spoken language is Austro-Bavarian , which predominates throughout the country (with the exception of Vorarlberg, where Alemannic predominates ). These three languages ​​mentioned, grouped as languages ​​or dialects of German, are spoken natively by 88.6% of the population.

The rest of the most common languages are Turkish (2.28%), Serbian (2.21%), Croatian (1.63%), English (0.73%), Hungarian (0.51%), Bosnian ( 0.43%), Polish (0.35%), Albanian (0.35%), Slovenian (0.31%), Czech (0.22%), Arabic (0.22%) and Romanian (0, twenty-one%).

The Slovenian is a co-official in the state of Carinthia, and is also present in the state of Styria. The Hungarian was an important language in the country because belong to the Austro – Hungarian Empire, but today barely has a presence with its largest core in the state of Burgenland.

The most learned foreign languages are English (73%), French (11%) and Italian (9%).


The Austrian German ( Österreichisches Deutsch ) is the variety of German spoken in Austria, and is influenced by Austro-Bavarian. It is only used in education, publications, formal announcements and websites. The majority of the young population has no problem using it , as does the older population in urban areas.


The Austro-Bavarian ( Österreichisch-Boarisch ) is the most spoken language in the country, the majority of the population . This language is a variant of High German, and it is difficult for standard German speakers (and for those who have studied it as a second language) to understand , as it has different pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary.

It is not official in Austria or in Bavaria ( Germany ), so there is no standardized spelling. Austro-Bavarian is heavily influenced by Standard German (as well as Standard Austrian German). Most of its speakers can also use standard German , especially written.

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Since the 4th century BC the Celts lived in present-day Austria. At the end of the 1st century BC the Romans conquered the region up to the Danube and in AD 45 they created the province of Noricum. The Romans built cities like Vindobona (Vienna) in Austria. They also built causeways and introduced the Roman way of life.

However, from the 4th century AD, waves of tribesmen, including Germans and misers, invaded Austria. Then Charlemagne, King of the Franks (768-814) conquered the area and made it part of his empire. After the death of Charlemagne, his empire was divided into three parts. Luis el Alemán took the eastern section, which included Austria. Under Frankish rule, Austria prospered.

However, at the beginning of the 10th century a people called the Magyars began raiding Austria. The Magyars were defeated by the German King Otto I in 955, after which the Germans regained control of the region and the Magyars became the ancestors of modern Hungarians .

In 1156 the Holy Roman Emperor made Austria a Duchy and its ruler became a Duke. Once again Austria prospered. However, when a Duke of Austria died in 1246, King Ottokar of Bohemia ( Czech Republic ) was elected Duke and married the widow of the last Duke.

In 1273, Rudolf von Habsburg became the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. He defeated the Czech king and in 1282 made his son Albert Duke of Austria. The Habsburgs ruled Austria for centuries. Little by little they acquired more territory and built a great empire in Central Europe.

In 1358 Rudolph IV, known as The Founder, became Duke of Austria. He founded the University of Vienna. In 1437, the Duke of Austria Albert II also became King of Hungary and Bohemia ( Czech Republic ). In 1438 he became Holy Roman Emperor. Austria was now the dominant power in Central Europe.


However, in the early 16th century, Austria faced a powerful threat from the Turks . In 1529 the Turks besieged Vienna, but failed to capture it.

Despite the Turks , the Austrian Empire prospered during the 16th century and trade grew. (Although the majority of the population is still peasant).

Meanwhile, all of Europe was shaken by the Reformation. Large numbers of people in the Austrian Empire converted to Protestantism. However, the Catholic Counter-Reformation gained some ground. Furthermore, Rudolph II (1576-1612) persecuted the Protestants.

Later, Austria participated in the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), which caused devastation in many Habsburg lands. In addition, in 1683 the Turks again besieged Vienna. However, an army of Germans and Poles took over from Vienna. Afterward, the Turks slowly fell back.

During the 18th century Austria prospered despite several long wars. The first of these was the War of the Spanish Succession of 1701-1714, which ended with the incorporation of Sardinia and part of Italy into the Austrian Empire.

More problems were created because Emperor Charles VI (1711-1740) did not have a male heir. He convinced foreign powers and national assemblies within his empire to accept his daughter as the next ruler. Maria Teresa succeeded him in 1740.

However, Frederick the Great of Prussia quickly took Silesia and began the War of the Austrian Succession of 1740-1748. During the war, Maria Teresa had to fight against the Prussians, French and Spanish .

In 1748 Maria Teresa’s husband, Francisco de Lorena, was named Emperor Francisco I. When he died in 1765, she ruled with her son José II (1765-1790).

At the end of the 18th century, the French Revolution plunged Europe into chaos. From 1792 to 1815, Austria and France fought a series of wars.

During that period, in 1806 Napoleon dissolved the Holy Roman Empire. The ruler of Austria renounced the title of Holy Roman Emperor and became Emperor Francis I of Austria.


After Napoleon’s defeat in 1815, Klemens Metternich, the Foreign Minister became the leading figure in Austrian politics. He introduced a repressive regime opposed to liberal ideas. However, despite the repression, Austria prospered and in the mid-19th century industrialization took place in some areas.

However, during the 19th century nationalism was a growing force in the Austrian Empire. The various peoples, such as the Hungarians and the Czechs , were increasingly unhappy with Austrian rule.

Then, in 1848, a wave of revolutions swept across Europe, including the Austrian Empire. Metternich resigned and at first the Emperor made concessions. However, the army remained loyal and Emperor Ferdinand I abdicated in favor of his nephew Francisco José. The new emperor restored absolute rule in Austria and the old order returned.

However, Austria was defeated by France in a war in 1859. It was also defeated by Prussia in 1866. After that, Austria ceased to be the dominant power in Central Europe. That role passed to Prussia.

After the war, in 1867, the Austrian Empire split into two parts. It became the Austro-Hungarian Empire, made up of Austria on one side and Hungary on the other. Both were ruled by the same Emperor.

At the end of the 19th century, the industry in the Vienna area grew rapidly. In addition, railroads were built throughout the empire. However, the various ethnic groups of the Austro-Hungarian Empire still yearned for independence.


Then, in 1914, Archduke Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne, was assassinated. That event led to the First World War.

In October 1918, even before the war officially ended, the Austro-Hungarian Empire began to disintegrate when the various races declared their independence. On November 11, 1918 the emperor abdicated and on November 12 the Republic of Austria was declared.

During the 1920s Austria recovered from the war, but in the early 1930s, like the rest of the world, Austria suffered from depression.

In July 1934 the Nazis attempted a coup and shot Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss. However, the troops defeated the coup. However, Hitler was determined to absorb Austria. In early 1938 Hitler forced the Austrian government to appoint Nazis to important posts.

Chancellor Schuschnigg proposed a referendum on the question of whether Austria should join Germany . However, Hitler was not satisfied, and German troops piled up along the border. Schuschnigg resigned and on March 12, 1938, German troops occupied Austria.

Austria suffered greatly during the Second World War. Many Austrian soldiers were killed and the country suffered from Allied bombing and Russian invasion in 1945. However, in 1943 the Allies decided to restore an independent Austria after the war.

The first provisional government in Austria was formed in April 1945 and in July 1945 Austria was divided into 4 zones by the Allies ( USA , France , Great Britain and Russia ). The first parliamentary elections were held in November 1945.

In 1955 Austria became an independent nation again. Parliament declared permanent neutrality. Austria joined the United Nations in December 1955.

The late 20th century was a time of prosperity and economic growth for Austria. Then, in 1995, Austria became part of the EU. Austria joined the euro in 1999.


Like the rest of the world, Austria suffered in the recession of 2009, but soon recovered. Today Austria is a prosperous country. At present, the population of Austria is 8.7 million.


Austrian cuisine is one of the most varied in Europe and includes German , Hungarian , Czech and Northern Italian influences.

A typical Austrian day begins with a light breakfast of coffee or milk with bread and butter or jam. Sausage served with mustard on a hard roll is a typical mid-morning snack.

Lunch is generally the main meal of the day and consists of soup and a main course of sausage, the very popular Wiener schnitzel (breaded beef), chicken, beef, pork or fish. Fresh vegetables, meatballs, noodles or potatoes usually accompany the main dish. A salad can finish the meal.

Austrian city dwellers often take a mid-afternoon coffee break at a national institution, the cafeteria. Part of the Austrian way of life, the café serves as a meeting place and as a fountain for breakfast, snack or lunch.

Most cafes, which also tend to serve alcohol, have their own distinctive atmosphere. Dinner usually consists of light dishes, such as cold cuts, cheese or smoked fish with bread and wine or beer.


Most Austrians greet each other formally, shaking hands and saying “Gruss Gott” (say hello to God) or “Gruss dich” (say hello to you). When they leave, they tremble again and say “Auf Wiedersehen” (goodbye). Older Viennese men can kiss a lady’s hand at the presentation, or say “Kuss die Han” (I kiss your hand) and bring their heels together.

Women like to have doors opened for them. At dinner, everyone at the table joins in a toast, saying “Prost”, and “Guten Appetit” is exchanged before starting to eat. The formal titles Frau (for a woman) and Herr (for a man) are of universal use.



Freedom of religion and worship is guaranteed in Austria. About three-quarters of Austrians are Roman Catholic. Many Austrians practice the “certificate of Catholic baptism,” in which they are Catholic by baptism and religious formality, but have no Catholic beliefs on core issues.

Another important religion in Austria is Protestantism, and many foreign workers are Muslim or Orthodox Serbs . There is also a small community of Jews, mostly immigrants from World War II and their families, although Jews have a long history in Vienna, beginning in the 10th century.


Catholic priests, Islamic teachers and mosque officials, Protestant ministers, and Jewish rabbis make up the majority of religious practitioners.


There are cathedrals and churches all over Austria. One of the most magnificent cathedrals in Austria is that of St. Stephen, or Stephansdom, in Vienna, built in the 15th century. The Augustinian Abbey and the statue of Saint Florian in the city of Saint Florian are also important religious sites.

Cathedrals contain carvings depicting the life of Christ, in which worshipers stop to pray. Several monasteries of the Cistercian order of monks, founded in the 12th century, continue to function. A popular tourist and pilgrimage destination is Melk, a Benedictine monastery on the banks of the Danube. In the countryside, crucifixes are erected at crossroads, and numerous hermitages offer a place to rest and pray.


Austrians rely on churches for funerals, and most hold onto the beliefs of their religious faith about life after death. Austria has one of the highest suicide rates in Europe, especially among men.

In Vienna you will find the great Zentalfriedhof (central cemetery), which contains the commemorative graves of such famous composers as Beethoven, Brahms and Schubert, as well as a monument to Mozart. Wealthy Austrians are buried in elaborate mausoleums, but almost all the graves are well-kept, with well-arranged flowers.


Major celebrations include Fasching, a carnival celebration held the week before Lent begins, and Almahtrieh, a September celebration of the return of the shepherds from the Alpine pastures, in which cows decorated with ribbons and bells they are led into the city in a procession.

Austrians also celebrate National Day on October 26; Independence Day, November 12; Nicolo’s Day (Saint Nicholas), December 6; on New Years Day, January 1.



The arts are highly respected in Austria, and Vienna was known during the 18th and 19th centuries as a world center of culture, especially in music. It was home to some of the greatest classical composers, including Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Brahms.

During that time, the Habsburg family and the Roman Catholic Church were the main proponents of the arts. Austria is sometimes known as “the country of music”. Annual festivals across the country include Austrian orchestras, choirs and other groups.

The best known is the Salzburg Summer Festival, founded in 1920. Austria is famous for its Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and its Vienna Children’s Choir.

The Vienna State Opera is a state institution that supports Austria’s leading cultural center, the Vienna Opera, one of the most opulent in the world. It accommodates Austrians on a budget, providing standing space in staggered hallways with rails to support spectators during a long opera.

Austrian children have compulsory music and art classes in primary and secondary schools, and music schools and private conservatories abound. Provincial theaters and orchestras bring the arts to the inhabitants of rural areas and cities.

The arts are responsible for stimulating a large part of the tourist trade in Austria and are therefore considered excellent investments for private enthusiasts.


Because it is written in German, Austrian literature is often considered part of German literature , and the first significant German literature appeared in Austria in the form of epic poems and songs around the year 1200.

The 17th century minister Abraham a Sancta Clara wrote a prose on social class that left a permanent mark on Austrian literature. Adalbert Stifter was the best known fiction writer of the 19th century, and Rainer Maria Rilke was a talented philosophical poet of the 20th century.

Several Austrian writers wrote plays and operas, in addition to verse and fiction. Among them was Hugo von Hofmannsthal, who, along with groundbreaking playwright Max Reinhardt, produced the mystery play Everyman annually at the Salzburg Festival.

The works of the early 20th century novelists Franz Werfel and Franz Kafka are world famous. Among the best known interwar novelists are Heimito von Doderer and Robert Musil. Thomas Bernhard and Peter Handke rose to fame in the late 20th century.

Coffee shops, especially in Vienna, have long been known as a meeting place for writers and poets. Today, many coffee shops offer literary readings as part of the culture that makes them so popular.


As the capital of the illustrious Habsburg Empire, Vienna was a center for fine arts, as well as for music and theater. The realist painter Ferdinand G. Waldmuller and the painter Hans Makart were the most famous of the 19th century. Gustav Klimt painted in an unconventional and sensual “secession” style, founded in 1897.

Oskar Kokoschka painted the realities of the First World War. In the 20th century, artists like Herbert Boeckl painted ornamentation on apartment blocks and cathedrals. Anton Kolig and Josef Mikl were abstract painters, and Ernest Fuchs and Anton Lehmden were known for their “fantastic realism.”

The Albertina Museum in Vienna’s Hofburg district houses a world-famous collection of graphic arts, with prints, drawings and watercolors by artists such as Michelangelo, da Vinci, Rubens, Cézanne, Manet, Modigliani, and Schiele.


The religious drama flourished, especially in Tyrol, during the Middle Ages. During the Counter-Reformation, Jesuit priests wrote innumerable religious dramas and performed plays in Jesuit schools. Vienna became the center of German-speaking theater during the 18th century.

Vienna’s Burgtheater was the most eminent during the 19th century, when the plays of the playwright Franz Grillparzer were first performed there. Social dramas, popular farces and satires also premiered during the 19th century.

Around 1900, the Vienna School of Dramaturgy, led by the Austrian playwright Arthur Schnitzler, created a new style of playwriting in Europe, which included psychological drama. The Salzburg Festival shows both drama and music.

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