Aperschnalzen, or Austrian whipcracking

In Salzburg last month, when I watched the Salzburger Dult Festzug, the Salzburg Traditions Festival’s opening procession, a couple of the acts included whipcracking.

To no surprise at all, Aperschalzen in Salzburg Province and Goaßlschalzen in Bavaria, Germany, are rooted in tradition and are competitive sports.

First, you should watch this video of mine so you can see what I am talking about:

What I have learned about whipcracking, I have learned by reading in German, so I hope what I say is accurate.

Whipcracking most often occurs in February before Lent begins. The most accepted purpose of whipcracking is to drive out winter spirits. Through noise, the evil powers of the gloom and cold will be scared off. Another interpretation is that through the noise of the whip cracking, the the sleeping crop buried under layers of snow will be brought back to life. Either way, the noise, to Austrians and Bavarians, is a good thing.

The whipcracking isn’t necessarily done in the present day for these reasons, but more as a continuation of what was done before. Now, there are competitions and clubs. A Schnalzerpasse, which I will translate as a team of whippers, is usually composed of nine men, and if not nine, some other odd number. Usually the smallest team member is the one to begin the group. He tells the whippers to begin by calling, “Aufdrahdi, oani, zwoa, drei dahin geht’s” (or “Untwist you, one, two, three let’s go”). One after another, they whip, each making the crack nine or 11 times.

For a more in-depth look at whipcracking, check out this video from the Salzburg newspaper from this past February. It’s of a competition in Maxglan, which is a part of Salzburg city, and there is a wide variety of teams participating, even a couple of female teams. By watching, you’ll also get to hear the Salzburg dialect of German, and even after a year of hearing people speak this way, it at least sounds like German to me but is still terribly difficult to comprehend. So, enjoy!

And I must acknowledge the wonderfully descriptive Schnalzen website for so thoroughly explaining whipcracking.

This entry was posted in Europe, Movies, Tradition, Travel Narrative and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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