Aperschnalzen (aper = free of snow), tradition involving the rhythmic
snapping and cracking of a whip up to 4 m in length (called
"Goassl" in dialect); takes place at the end of January and early
February every 3rd year on a predetermined date in a town in the
Flachgau region of the province of Salzburg and in between in the
neighbouring Bavarian Rupertiwinkel region. The whip-cracking is
performed in small groups ("Passen") of 9 members each; 60-70 of these
groups usually take part in the "Schnalzen" competitions (first
carried out in 1936 in Maxglan) as well as in public performances at
traditional costume festivals or other public events (e.g. the opening
ceremony of the Olympic Games in 1972). The tradition of Aperschnalzen
was revived at the beginning of the 20th century and is now organised
and performed by the "Rupertiwinkel" association (founded in 1957 in
Saaldorf near Freilassing) of Bavaria and Salzburg. Earlier
interpretations which go beyond the athletic and demonstrative
function of this tradition to imply a religious noise-making custom
("Winteraustreiben", driving off the winter) are unconfirmed.
Introduced by traditional costume and culture clubs in Linz in 1925
after the Bavarian model.
Further reading: E. Mueller, Der Brauch des Aperschnalzen, in: Salzburg. Volkskultur 15, 1991.
This contribution was taken from an Austrian Encyclopaedia "Österreich Lexikon" © 1995 by Verlagsgemeinschaft Österreich-Lexikon. Pictures and links (if applicable) have been removed. To view them click the link above to get to the Austrian version. That version is also updated more frequently.