"Goassln" (whip cracking) - a very special tradition

And every year it’s that time again - the fifth season begins. The fifth? Yes, really the fifth. In Salzburger Land there is actually one season more than anywhere else in the world. Well, do you already know what we're talking about here? That's right, Harvest Festival! Autumn is actually the time to bring in and process the harvest. But we wouldn't be us if it wasn't also a time for festivities and encounters. The festivities are different everywhere and today I will tell you about a very special tradition.We are talking here about "Goassln" (whip cracking). The name comes from the "stock whip", the whip used by horse-drawn carriage drivers for communication. The different sequences and rhythms of the whip strokes were used for different purposes at that time.  This way, others could tell if it was a warning or a welcome. Even today, there are clubs like the Wagrainer Herreiter and Goasslschnalzer, which preserve and keep alive the tradition to the beat of the accordion. The club now has 30 members between the ages of 7 and 90. What is important to them is to get together regularly and enjoy each other's company, which is of course very exciting for everyone involved given the age difference. They rehearse weekly in the summer and in addition they also perform every week at events, such as the square concerts, village concerts and the local history and customs evenings. So, the association really has enough to do.

The chairman of the "Goasslschnalzer" Sepp Rettenwender has been with the association since 1980 and always keeps the troupe on its toes. Speaking of trotting - the whipcrackers often perform together with the "Herreiter", they don't only crack while standing on the ground, but also on horseback. The horses are specially trained for this. Here, too, there are huge differences from horse to horse. Some don't mind at all, and it works from the first second, others are a bit too jumpy for it. But where does the snapping sound actually come from? "Beginners need about a year to learn how to do it. The technique is important here, because the sound, or the bang, is created when the "smash" at the end of the whip reaches supersonic speed. There are different types of whip, such as the forehand stroke, the backhand stroke and the double stroke. The length of the whips varies from 1.80m for children's whips to 3m long whips for adults," Sepp tells me. However, getting a crack out of them is not as easy as it looks.

By the way, you can see the "Wagrainer Herreiter" and "Goasslschnalzer" not only during the Harvest Festival week, but all summer long at the weekly events, such as the square and village concerts. But especially when the cows are herded down, they give their best and offer a really impressive show. Here the whole association is represented and not just standing there - they are spread out on the street, roofs and horses. So, it's an experience with surround sound. It's really great to watch and you'd like to try it yourself. I tried it once and it's not as easy as it looks :).So, definitely a must-see and really really impressive. It's always nice when a tradition is carried on by young and old and children learn a little responsibility from a young age and what it means to be part of something big.

Are you going to a Harvest Festival event? What do you like best: the music, the good food, the traditional costume - or everything as a whole package? Feel free to write and tag us at the events with @wagrainkleinarl. We look forward to seeing you!More information about the Harvest Festival events can be found here. "Tradition is not keeping the ashes, but passing on the flame". Thomas Morus

Photo credit: Wagrain-Kleinarl Tourismus