Thousands of gingerbread hearts in the Salzkammergut tourist region
A real "Liabstatt" heart helps against any kind of pain - that's why it was invented in the Salzkammergut tourist region hundreds of years ago.
The custom: "Liabstatt" Sunday
This custom is still celebrated in a very special way in Gmunden in particular. Thousands of gingerbread hearts are baked and artistically decorated with swans, sayings and colourful sugar flowers. They are really proud of this age-old custom in Gmunden. You can find the "Liabstatt" hearts as wall decorations in many homes. You can guess the age of the tokens of love by how much icing has broken away.
But how old is the "Liabstatt" custom really?
The meagre period of Lent was interrupted by Sundays which were never considered to be fasting days. In particular Laetare Sunday, the 4th Sunday of Lent, is all about saintly anticipation. In the Gmunden region this Sunday during Lent is celebrated as "Liabstatt Sunday", when you exchange gingerbread hearts decorated with sayings and therefore pay someone a visit to declare your love.
One legend purports that this custom dates back to the period of Counter-Reformation. However, there is no evidence of this as there is very little documentation about the history of "Liabstatt" Sunday. The rumour is that the Bishop of Passau ratified the "Corporis Christi Brotherhood" in 1641, which was supposed to intensify religious life in the town in the spirit of Counter-Reformation. This brotherhood chose the 4th Sunday in Lent as the day for their annual general meeting and started the day by going to church and having a festive meal. They are said to have also invited the poor people in the town as a sign of brotherly love for their fellow human beings. "Liabstatt" Sunday, as we know and love it today, is supposed to have developed out of this.
Or was it in fact a "marriage market"?
Sources from 1856 refer to a kind of "marriage market" on Laetare Sunday where young girls appeared in their finest attire, gathering on the main square and hoping to be invited by the boys to drink mead at the Lebzelterhaus. Back then, this day was considered to be the day on which a romantic liaison began, was confirmed or ended. However, there was not any talk of gingerbread hearts yet.
The first evidence of decorated gingerbread hearts is at the start of the 1930s. "Liabstatt" Sunday in today's form is therefore a folklore event, which is associated with the foundation of traditional dress associations at the start of the 20th century.