Customs and Traditions: Early folkloristic research saw customs as mythological traditions which had developed from Germanic or Celtic rituals and were primarily concerned with fertility symbolism or the warding off of demons, functions which have been retained up to this day. Modern research, however, takes a different approach to the question of when and how customs and traditions originated. It has become possible to pinpoint more precisely when many customs began. Functional and cultural aspects and the connection with other festivities have also been researched in greater detail. Customs are at present understood as cultural behavioural patterns for recurring situations, based on social obligations. Customs not only have an important social function, but also provide identity for groups, municipalities or parts of cities. Folklore research focuses particularly on ritualizations in modern everyday life.
Changes in customs and traditions used to be interpreted as a threat to ancient cultural values and as an expression of declining European culture in general. Today, however, research presents a more differentiated view of the situation. Tourism and the culture industry were quick to realize the economic profitability of customs and traditions and have contributed to their continuation. Since the turn of the century, certain forms of customs and traditions have also been increasingly promoted on a local level. The quest for "real", "original" customs has confronted folklore research with the problem of what has been called "pseudo folklore"
At present, the following tendencies are discernible: Already existing customs and traditions have been partly modernized, others have been newly introduced and have become popular very quickly; new supporter groups have developed (e.g. clubs and societies). At the same time, customs and traditions have changed into regionally typical cultural characteristics, mostly referring to valleys or individual provinces, such as the Funken-Brauch in Vorarlberg ( Bonfire Customs), the Schemenlauf in the Tyrol, or the Ranggeln in Salzburg. Customs and traditions are also increasingly used to enhance Austria's media image and as a specific tourist attraction in the media. A similar tendency to return to customs and traditions can in fact be discerned all over Europe.
Literature#G. Kapfhammer, Brauchtum in den Alpenlaendern, 1977; I. Weber-Kellermann, Saure Wochen, frohe Feste, 1985; M. Scharfe, Brauchforschung, 1991; H. M. Wolf, Das Brauchbuch, 1992.