He dances at many weddings - from the life of a wedding host

Wedding host - are you familiar with him? We want to know, what´s really behind this ancient custom

For this reason, we met Hans Strobl, District Chairman of the Pongau Local Heritage Association, the most distinguished guardian of customs in the Pongau region and thus of his guild, for which he has put himself in the front row for decades. It was also he who revived the age-old custom of the wedding host in St. Johann over 46 years ago. It is hard to believe that Hans Strobl has accompanied 435 bridal couples since then. "Yes," he says, "more and more brides and grooms are hiring a wedding host as master of ceremonies again these days." This is also documented by his richly hung sticks, of which he now has three.  For every bride and groom presents "their" wedding host with a cloth ribbon with their name and date to commemorate the celebration. And the ribbons that Hans Strobl has collected in the meantime no longer fit on one stick.
Wedding host Hans Strobl, certainly looks smart dressed in traditional costume, with his hat and wedding host stick, when steers the proceedings on the big day in the right direction: he puts together the wedding procession, explains their tasks to witnesses, bridal escorts and pages, announces songs, dances of honour and the children's poems.  The "playing out" at midnight is the "last act" with which the wedding host's day's work is done. "The wedding host thing was actually a coincidence," Hans Strobl continues with a laugh. A member of the St. Johann Alpine Costume Preservation Society asked him in 1975 if he would take on the task for his wedding ...
The custom of the wedding host goes back to the 16th century. At that time, he was indispensable for the wedding couple because he virtually replaced the post: he went from place to place, from farm to farm, inviting relatives, friends and acquaintances. Before that, he even had the honourable task of officially informing the bride that the groom was willing to marry her. „ …so, walk nicely behind me Right up to the church door I will lead you to the altar, there you'll give the Lord your word of consent … Excerpt from a saying by Hans Strobl

Slowly, Hans Strobl, who is now almost 70 years old, would like to step down a little and pass on one function after another to younger hands. It is a matter close to his heart that he passes on his knowledge to the pupils at Pongau primary schools, telling them about palm bouquets and ratchet making, erecting May poles, tying a harvest crown, about St. Nicholas and Krampus customs, whip-crackers, traditional dancers and thigh-slappers - and about the wedding host.„It is so important to teach young people our customs," Hans Strobl sums up thoughtfully. Customs must be upheld. It is part of our identity, our culture.

You can find out more about the Salzburg mountain wedding here.

photo credits: Strobl Hans, Andrea Rachensperger, TVB St. Johann im Pongau