Local traditions and ancient customs play a large role in South Tyrol. These traditions are closely linked to the area and its landscape and history.
Local traditions and ancient customs play a large role in South Tyrol. These traditions are closely linked to the area and its landscape and history. Very often this dates to the times of the French occupation, such as with the tradition of the Sacred Heart Fire, dating back to 1796. Large bonfires can be seen on almost all mountain ridges on the last Sunday in June.
Many customs and traditions have survived for centuries and are maintained even today. During the time of the Fascist regime between 1922 and the end of WWII, many of these customs were suppressed, and some were in the postwar era almost forgotten. Perhaps this is the reason why local inhabitants preserve their customs and traditions so well today.
There are also many customs connected with the area’s long religious heritage. This spectrum comprises Christian traditions like the Easter grave or the Epiphany Consecration, or religious solemnities such as the five Marian processions in Lana. On the other hand there are also still present many traditions and rituals of pagan origin, like the many local Carnival customs. Christian and pagan customs have also often become mixed together, such as with the St. Nicholas and Krampus parades. Many traditions are accompanied by traditional regional delicacies.
The biggest festival in South Tyrol is the Merano Grape Festival, celebrated after the harvest. Other highly popular events are the traditional Haflinger horse race which takes place on Easter Monday at the racecourse in Merano, and the Christmas markets which are open from November until the feast of the Epiphany.