7. Dezember – Der Adventskalender
Festive Shooting: Berchtesgadener Böller (Small Cannons)
The “silent night” of the Bavarian Alps is suddenly pierced by the sound of gunfire! Gunshots echo throughout the Berchtesgaden region of Bavaria at midnight on Christmas Eve. The 1200 members of the festive shooting club known as the Berchtesgadener Böller spread out in the Berchtesgaden valley in their traditional costumes to welcome the Christ Child at the stroke of midnight. Using old-fashioned pistols and small cannons called Böller, they fire off a total of about 7,000 rounds. A week later they repeat their noisy custom for New Year’s Eve. First mentioned in 1666, the Berchtesgaden shooting tradition goes back to the invention of gunpowder (Schießpulver) and pagan times when loud noises were thought to drive away evil spirits. When done for Christmas, the custom is also known as Christkindlanschießen (see photo above).
The custom of Böllerschießen (also known as Prangerschießen) is not just reserved for Christmas and New Year’s Eve. It also takes place during Oktoberfest, and for weddings and other festive occasions. There are many Böller associations in communities all across Bavaria whose members enjoy carrying out this booming business. A similar tradition also exists in Salzburg, Austria and other Alpine regions.
VIDEO: Böllerschießen, Oktoberfest 2016, Munich
WEB > Der Prangerstutzen im Salzburger Brauchtum – The Salzburg association and members (in German) – with an English Summary
WEB > Salzburger Prangerschießen – Bilder – Photos of various small-cannon events in Austria
WEB > Stille Nacht, Böller kracht (Deutsche Welle)
WEB > Böllerschießen – Wikipedia (in German)
AT THE GERMAN WAY
- Christmas from A to Z – German Christmas traditions and terms
- Advent Customs in Germany
- Photo Gallery: Christmas in Germany – Berlin – A visual tour of Christmas markets and other December sights in Berlin
- Christmas in the USA and Germany– A comparison chart
- German Christmas Carols – Popular carols with lyrics in German and English
- Barbarazweig – The legend and the Christmas custom
- Epiphany and the Sternsinger – January 6 in the Germanic Christmas tradition
- Erntedank (“harvest thanksgiving”) or Erntedankfest in Germany and Austria is different from the American Thanksgiving tradition.
- St. Nicholas – The many German St. Nicks
- Thomas Nast created the modern Santa image.
- The Christmas Pickle Ornament – Fact or fiction?
- Silent Night (Stille Nacht) – Our “Silent Night” page has the true story and related links.
- Holidays and Celebrations in Austria, Germany and Switzerland
- Glass Ornaments – a history
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