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The centuries-old tradition of Christmas nativity scenes

A Christmas nativity scene
Traditional Christmas nativity scenes in Bad Ischl

Producing Christmas nativity scenes is a centuries-old tradition in Bad Ischl. Many old nativities are privately owned. Every year you can go and see these at the owner's/builder's between 26 December and 2 February. With the "Kripperlroas" (nativity journey) you move from exhibitor to exhibitor by horse-drawn carriage.

Nativity scene exhibition in the museum

Every year the nativity scene exhibition inspires children and adults at the museum in Bad Ischl. But one always stands out – the "Kalsskrippe"

Famous Bad Ischl nativity scenes

The most famous of several Bad Ischl nativity scenes is the "Kalsskrippe". It is located in the town's museum today (Haus Austria). The Bad Ischl nativity scene dates back to 1838. The salt works official Franz Oberleitner promised to build a large nativity scene if he were to finally be blessed with a son. No sooner said than done. The building of the nativity scene had barely begun when his first son was born. With this event the nativity scene was instantly added to with a Votive church. The nativity scene got bigger year after year. In its final state now it includes roughly 300 figures.

The "Kalsskrippe"

After Franz Oberleitner died the nativity scene passed into the ownership of the business man Johann Kalss and was called the "Kalsskrippe" from then on. The new owner was also a passionate nativity scene builder. It soon became a great sight in Bad Ischl, not just at Christmas time. The main figures and those in the foreground are up to 30 cm tall. Besides depicting the birth of the Lord there are other representations such as "The Search for Shelter", "The Shepherds' Offering", "The Three Wise Men", "The House of Nazareth", The Wedding at Cana" and many more. Another special feature of the Kalsskrippe - the Holy Family and the 3 Magi are dressed in Oriental clothes, all the other figures are wearing traditional Salzkammergut dress.

The "Kalsskrippe" today

Today the "Kalsskrippe" is owned by the Bad Ischl local historical association and can be seen in the town's museum every year. The nativity scene is in the meantime equipped with light and sound. A speaker tells its story and a spotlight directs your gaze to the sections and groups who are being reported on at that moment. In between you hear old passed down shepherd songs and Christmas carols, which are still sung today in the Salzkammergut tourist region at Christmas time.

Other traditional nativity scene exhibitors are

Johann Linortner, August Putz, Franz Gratzer, Josef Moser, Christoph Schmied, Heinrich Neureiter, Alexander Auer ("Zum Pfandl" restaurant), Johann Grabner ("Grabnerwirt" restaurant), Robert Schiffer and the Bad Ischl town parish church.

Are you curious? We would be happy to organise your very own personal "Kripperlroas" through wintry Bad Ischl, just send us a non-binding enquiry or book directly online.



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