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Posts from the ‘Holidays / Significant Dates’ Category


So here it is – proof that KC got your back: KC’s All-You-Need-to-Know-About New Year’s – compiled over the years to keep you in-the-know and provide ample Vienna New Year’s 101 to enable you to blend in smoothly with the natives before everyone hits the Turbo Punsch stands. You’ve got time till Thursday night so no excuses. Get over the cookie hangover and get reading. Even if you aren’t in Austria – nothing says you can’t do crazy hats, waltz, good luck charms, Glühwein and the New Year’s Day concert where you are and make your 2016 New Year’s Resolution: “I’ll take the plunge and ring in 2017 in Vienna.”

  1. The Number One Most New Year’s City in the World: A must-read post. It’s all here. Complete with photos from my last New Year’s Eve.
  2. Melting Your Fortune Sculpture for the New Year: Everything you always wanted to know about the Austrian fortune-telling tradition of Bleigiessen (lead melting), including a complete why-to-buy, how-to-do-it, what is now being used  nowadays instead of lead and a list of blob fortune-telling interpretations so that once you melt your figure, you can actually interpret your future.

    Lucky Pigs

    Lucky Pigs

  3. Austrian Good Luck Charms and What They Mean: Got Glück? Good Luck Charms and Got Pig? Pigs (and other symbols) as Glücksbringer 
  4. Recipe for Glühwein in “How to Make Glühwein (Mulled Wine) and Spread Good Cheer.” I make a large pot of Glühwein every New Year’s Eve and keep it (along with a pot of my mean down-home chili) on the stove so that before and after the venture along the New Year’s Path, it is there for the taking.

Stay safe this coming New Year’s, have fun, wear a crazy hat and waltz!

Me - New Year's Eve in Vienna

Me – New Year’s Eve in Vienna with lit ears

Thanks for keeping with me this past year.
I wish you and yours all the best in 2016!






 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12, Bible

One of my fondest memories of growing up in a small town in Pennsylvania was the Christmas Eve service at the local church. Some years my parents and I would volunteer to set up the luminaries in the church parking lot before the service. Luminaries are nothing more than small paper lunch bags filled about a quarter of the way with sand to weigh them down and hold a candle that is placed in the center. The luminaries were placed along the sidewalks leading up to the church to form a procession of lights – like the North Star leading the way into the church. At the entrance greeters welcomed you to the service with a hand shake and white candle complete with a cardboard ring to protect your hand from dripping wax.

Light of Peace in Weyer, Upper Austria

Light of Peace in Weyer, Upper Austria

In my memory, the entire service was conducted by candlelight but in reality, I think that it was probably toward the end of the service that the lights were turned off. The church fell silent as each light was distinguished and church elders moved from pew to pew lighting the end row member’s candle who then passed on the light to the other church members in the row. At the very end of the service, we all sang “Silent Night” a cappella by candle light. The significance of one flame illuminating the entire sanctuary was not lost on me, not even as a young child and contributing to the warmth of candles and the anticipation of presents sure to come was an awesome feeling  of oneness with everyone around me and with it a deep sense of inner peace.

When you move abroad, or simply find yourself far away from loved ones during the holidays, tis-the-season can accentuate all the more your aloneness, making this time of year quite challenging. Fortunately for me, Austria is world class when it comes to conveying Christmas in its Ur-sense. Or at least what I think that must be.

Lighting all candles with Light of Peace

Lighting all candles with Light of Peace

Besides the shops and just about everything else being closed from noon on Christmas Eve until midnight on December 27, and not Santa baby but the Christkind (Christ child) bringing the presents here, and this being the birth place of that soul-piercing carol “Silent Night”, many of Austria’s holidays traditions are illuminated by candlelight. And there’s something about candlelight – the dancing shadows cast on walls, the sweet wax smell, the softening of voice levels to intimate whispers – that soothes the soul.

At the beginning of advent, advent wreaths are sold at every market and most grocery stores and each week, another candle is lit. Traditional Christmas figures carved in wood are surrounded by candles and the rising heat from the flames turn the wooden propeller on top. Candles adorn Christmas tree branches and on Christmas eve, the ringing of a small bell summons the children to the candle lit tree (which has been brought and decorated by the Christ child) where the family gathers around to sing Christmas carols and exchange presents.

Christmas Lanterns are used to fetch the Light of Peace and bring home

Christmas Lanterns are used to fetch the Light of Peace and bring home

But one of the traditions I love the very most is a relatively new one (started in 1986)– and this is the tradition of lighting all the candles of the home on Christmas Eve from a single flame from Bethlehem — the Light of Peace (more also in a previous post). How fitting that the tradition of the Light of Peace started in Upper Austria – the same place that Silent Night was penned. The Light of Peace stems from a candle burning in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the cave-manger site traditionally venerated as the birthplace of Jesus. Every year at the end of November, the flame is brought to Austria by a child specially selected for the task. This year, due to the current turmoil in the region, a 9-year-old girl, Ihab Msleh, who comes from an Arabic-Christian family in Bethlehem, lit the candle that was then transported back to Vienna on an Austrian Airlines flight into the care of 10-year-old Niklas Dumhart from St. Georgen an der Gusen. It’s Niklas’ job to spread the light throughout Austria and even other parts of Europe. So far, this year’s Light of Peace has been shared with all of Austria, 30 European countries, many parts of the US (so glad to see Texas now joining in, if only Florida and NC could get on board), some parts of South America and many other places throughout the world. On December 16, Niklas even traveled to the Vatican to share the Light of Peace with Pope Franciskus.

On Christmas Eve, local organizations set up a lantern or candles burning with flames lit from the Light of Peace and make the flame available to everyone in the community. Bearing lanterns from home, folks visit these stations and light their own candles from the Lights of Peace. Once they return home, they then light all the Christmas candles in their homes from the lantern bearing the Light of Peace. So the flame that came from Bethlehem illuminates its glow of peace, candle-by-candle, throughout Austria and the rest of world.

No matter what your religion, creed, nationality, or general state of existence, you have to admit that there is something awe-inspiringly beautiful about one little flame illuminating so many homes in the spirit of peace, joy, love and (hopefully) happiness.


Now grab a lantern and head out to light your candle by the flame of the Light of Peace – locations for Vienna and the USA given below. 


All „manned“ train stations throughout Austria
Available on 24 December beginning at 8 am at all „manned“ Austrian train stations.

The following Vienna Cemeteries: Baumgarten, Feuerhalle Simmering, Hernals, Hietzing, Ottakring, Neustift, Südwest, Stammersdorf Central and Vienna Central (Wiener Zentral Friedhof)
Available on 24 December, 8:30 am till noon

1. District

Boyscout Troop 16 – Schotten, Schotten Church, Freyung 6, 1010 Vienna
When: 24 December 2015 from 10:00 am till 2 pm

3. District

Austrian Red Cross
Nottendorfer Gasse 21, 2. floor, room 223, 1030 Vienna
Directions: U3 Station Erdberg, Exit Nottendorfer Gasse. Please use the main entrance Tel:  +43 50 144
When: 24 December 2015 from 08:00 am till 4 pm

4. District

Blood Donation Center oft he Austrian Red Cross (Blutspendezentrale des Österreichischen Roten Kreuzes), Blutspendezentrale, Wiedner Hauptstraße 32, 1040 Vienna
When: 24 December 2015 from 08:00 am till 1 pm

6. District

Boyscout Troop 17/47 , Mariahilfer Church, Barnabitengasse, 1060 Vienna

Light of Peace - Weyer Youth Group, Upper Austria

Light of Peace – Weyer Youth Group, Upper Austria

When: 24 December 2015 from 4 pm till 5 pm

11. District

Boyscout Troop 73 , Evangelic Arc (Evangelische Arche), Svetelskystraße 7, 1110 Vienna
When: 24 December 2015 from 3 pm till 4 pm

12. District

Boyscout Troop 10/48 , Khleslplatz 24 und Tivoligasse 20, 1120 Vienna
When: 24 December 4 pm till 5 pm, Children’s Service, Khleslplatz 24, and 11 pm Midnight service, Tivoligasse 20

13. District

Living without Barriers (OHNE BARRIEREN LEBEN), Hietzinger Hauptstraße 22, 1130 Vienna
When: 24 December 2015 from 09:00 am till 1 pm

23. District

Boyscout Troop 32, Alt-Erlaa, Church Alt-Erlaa
When: 24 December 4 pm – 5 pm


Klosterneuburg City Hall (Klosterneuburg Rathaus):
When: Wednesday, 23 December from 08.30 am until 11.00 am the assembly hall (Aula) of the Rathaus


Light of Peace in the USA 2015 – just click on the map

 Previous posts about the Light of Peace:

Some asides I would like to add:

  1. Austria desperately needs a handy map showing Light of Peace locations like the US has. I had to scavenge the internet to figure out where it is. Aren’t there any tech-savvy boy scouts out there who need a badge project?
  2. A nice family tradition is to give a child a candle at birth that can be used in religious celebrations (baptisms,etc) and then when the child grows up and ties the knot, each person’s birth candle can be used to light the one wedding candle which can then be used to light the candle of their child.
  3. If your community has no Light of Peace, take the helm and organize one for next year and spread the light. You’ll be happy you did and get a badge in my book.


Before you go see the wookie, be sure you bake the cookie! – KC

Print This PostAdmit it. You’ve been eying those cookies down at the grocery store wondering if they could pass for homemade because let’s face it: Super Barbie Housewife you are not. She might rise at 4 am, tie that pink lace apron around her cute little waist and hop through the kitchen in those furry bedroom shoes grinding flour here, churning butter there, all in the name of extra special down-home lovin, but you’ve had better, more noble things to do. Like sleep in. Like show your support for the mistreated and abandoned puppies by frequenting the Animal Shelter Glühwein stand down at the local Christmas Market. And then you had to check out the new Krampus film  because it reminded you of Uncle Scrooge. Not to mention the amount of time you seriously contemplated organizing a grass roots movement complete with online petition against that Elf on the Shelf because the upcoming generation of bright-eyed bushy-tailed gift-hungry children must not be trained to be numb to the evils of a surveillance state. Someone has to do something. You thought about it at least. Thus the lack of sweet ginger-bread laced scents floating from your oven. Got it?

But let’s face it. All the folks coming to Aunt Em’s for Christmas don’t want explanations; they want cookies. And if you want to keep Ken’s focus on your apron and not that Barbie girl’s, it’s high time to dig out the beaters and heat up that oven. After all you’ll expect Ken to man up and take wrench in hand and fix the tire in the blizzard raging on I-95 on the way to Aunt Em’s, right? But you’re miserable at baking and never managed to keep straight baking soda from baking powder.

No worries. You’ve come to the right blog. Because I’m going to instruct you on how to make it look like you slaved hours in the kitchen baking up a plate of cookies so sweet and so good that they could take the sour out of Trump.  These Schaumrollen – or as we call them in Pittsburgh – lady locks are guaranteed to turn Uncle Scrooge’s ho hums into ho ho hos long before he hits the eggnog table.

Finished Schaumrollen

Finished Schaumrollen

But you will have to purchase some materials before you start. Just think of it as a long-term investment and your once-a-year ticket to get “Bake Christmas cookies” off the To-Do list in order to free you up for those other philanthropic pursuits (see above) so in need of your attention.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Fillo Dough is called Blätterteig in German - this one is "Bio" Organic.

Fillo Dough is called Blätterteig in German – this one is “Bio” Organic.

Fillo Dough (in Austria Blätterteig or even Bio-Blätterteig) – found in the refrigerator section of your local grocery store – such as Billa, Merkur or Spar in Austria or places like Lowes or Giant Eagle in the US.

Cookie horns or molds for lady locks, Schaumrollen, cream horns or cannoli – in Vienna I got mine at the Leiner on Mariahilferstr but you can also order them from Amazon in Austria and the US.

Dessert Decorator Press: Again, in Vienna, I got mine at Leiner but you can probably pick one up at Target, Walmart or Amazon.

Baking Paper
Corn Oil

Powdered Sugar
Eggs (best if from happy chickens because happy chooks = better cooks)

  • 3 packages of fillo dough/Blätterteig – more for more cookies though you will probably not need to increase the filling since you will probably have plenty
  • 5 egg whites
  • ½ C sugar
  • 1/3 C powdered sugar
  • 1/3 C water
  • 1 egg to glaze the Fillo dough wrapped around the forms before baking
  • small bowl of oil to grease the horn/lady lock/Schaumrollen/cannoli forms
  1. Spread out dough.
  2. Preheat oven to 200° C (395° F).

    Egg whites with sugar beaten until stiff

    Egg whites with sugar beaten until stiff

  3. Mix water and sugar together and boil for 2 – 3 minutes while constantly stirring.
  4. Beat egg whites in bowl until stiff (easiest with mixer). Gradually mix in powdered sugar.
  5. Slowly add hot sugar mixture to stiffened egg white mixture using first the middle speed and then increasing to the highest speed until the consistency is rather stiff.
  6. Cut dough strips lengthwise in 1 inch wide strips. .
  7. With your finger, oil each of the lady lock/cannoli/Schaumrollen forms (horns). Next wrap a dough stripe around the forms
    Rolling the dough onto the cookie horn form

    Rolling the dough onto the cookie horn form

    making sure you overlap each layer along the edge (see photo). Brush the egg mixture on the dough horns. Place glazed horns on wax paper on baking sheet.

  8. Place horns/ladylocks/Schaumrollen in preheated oven and bake 8 – 15 minutes until golden.
  9. While still hot, carefully remove the horns/lady locks/ Schaumrollen from the forms and place on wax papered pan to cool slightly.
  10. Put the meringue (stiffened sugar mix) into the decorator press and then use to fill each of the horns/lady locks/
    Beaten egg for glaze

    Beaten egg for glaze


  11. Place decoratively on plate with powdered sugar sprinkled on top.
  12. Toss off the apron, reward yourself with some genuinely earned Glühwein and get ready to see Uncle Scrooge (and your guy) smile. If anyone enters the kitchen and catches you Glühweining, glance wearily at the plate of Schaumrollen, offer one up (two only if deserved), and dramatically indicate that you’ve just spent hours slaving over the most difficult cookies in the world

Once you’ve proven you can manage the basics, you can get creative. You can attempt fillings with other things like yoghurt, strawberries, puddings, whipped cream, or sprinkle some chocolate shavings over the top of the finished Schaumrollen.

Tip: Schaumrollen are better made fresh. If you want to bake ahead, simply bake the dough forms and store in a box in a dry cool area for a couple days (or even freeze in plastic container) and make the filling the day you want to serve the Schaumrollen or store the filling separate in a bowl in the fridge for up to three days and then fill the rolls on the day of serving. Print This Post



That time of year again… I passed the Krampus test. How about you?

Schloss Neugebäude in Vienna and the Krampusse were once again on the loose. Would have enjoyed seeing all the boys aged 5 – 13 who had elbowed their ways to the front of the crowds, rush to duck behind their Dads when the beasts came galloping out, gnashing their fangs, rustling their chains, chiming their cow bells, and then charging straight for those rascals. Yep, quite a scene. Or it would have been, had I not been plagued myself with a miniscule tinge of concern that those Krampusse might do some sloppy detective work or someone could have slipped them some false intel and they could have accidentally mistaken me for someone who had misbehaved this year. Fortunately, the Katscher Krampusse filled their baskets with folks obviously much naughtier than me and I could duck off into the 73A at the end of the evening and bring some scenes fresh from the castle straight to your home or workplace or man cave, far away and safe from those hunting, hungry demons. Then again, they travel fast and you might be in a completely different time zone, so best stay alert, tune an ear for the cling of cow bells, and clang of chains and random grunts and your nose sensitized to goat odors. And if they come? Be sure to take a selfie and post. And keep your GPS on your phone switched on. The NSA, Facebook, LinkedIn or the online Christmas vendors are bound to find you eventually – and start posting you ads for goat food, ear plugs, chain cutters and a nice vacation away from the cave.

Need more Krampus facts? Check out these posts:

Krampus is Coming to Get You (+ Bonus Krampus 101 List)

18 Telltale Signs Your Guy’s Really a Krampus

How Much More Austrian Do You Want – Christoph Waltz explains Krampus