The Tresterer from Unken

A rare and unique tradition

The Tresterer from the Trachtenverein Unken traditionally travel from farm to farm on the Feast of the Epiphany (6th January) to bring New Year’s luck and blessings. A group of traditional characters including Schönperchten, Schiachperchten, Kasperl and Pater make their way through the village.

The last of the „Smoke Nights“ in the Salzburger Saalachtal begins on the eve of the Epiphany. All occupants of the house are expected to be at home for „Rachn geh“, the protective smoking of the house. Just as on the first two smoke nights, everyone processes through the inside of the house first and then goes outside to circle the house clockwise three times. The incense rising from the embers is supposed to carry prayers to heaven and the holy water protects the home from harm.

On the 6th January, the Feast of the Epiphany, the „Sternsinger“ (carol singers) attend Mass in the church and present the donations for the missions which they have collected.

The „Perchtenlauf“, one of the oldest folk traditions in Salzburger Land takes place from noon onwards. The „Perchten“ travel from farm to farm through one part of the village where the residents, neighbours and curious onlookers are expecting them. The first to appear are the three „Schiachperchten“, the ugly characters, including the krampus, the witch and the beggar. These represent the power of evil.

They are followed by the „Schönperchten“, the pretty perchten, otherwise known as the „Tresterer“. They are accompanied by „Kasperl“ and „Pater“, who banish the evil spirits from the house so that the good spirits can enter. The „Tresterer Dance“ is performed, either in the entrance hall or living room, to bring luck and blessings to the residents and to bring nature back to life in time for spring. Meanwhile, the Kasperl plays a practical joke. After everyone has wished each other a happy New Year and good health, the Perchten make their way on to the next farm. A rare and very unique tradition in Salzburger Land!

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