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Posts from the ‘Legends’ Category


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







Music is the most potent instrument in education because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul.   – Plato

Print This Post On September 30, 1791, two years after the French Revolution, The Magic Flute premiered in Vienna. To work on what would be his last and one of his most celebrated pieces, Mozart temporarily moved in with Emanuel Schikaneder, the man who penned the libretto of The Magic Flute and also happened to be a fellow member of “Zur Wohltätigkeit,” Mozart’s masonic lodge. The opera opened to much acclaim but less than a month and a half after its debut, Mozart suffered a painful and mysterious death, and confided in his loved ones his conviction that he had been poisoned (see last week’s post: Mozart, the Free Masons and A Mysterious Death).

Theories of Mozart’s death are as numerous and varied as the Gulasch in Vienna’s Gulaschmuseum. One proposes that the timing of Mozart’s death (so soon after the premiere of The Magic Flute) was no coincidence.

Indeed, since its origin, The Magic Flute, like episodes of South Park, has led a double life. For the unordained, the opera relates the age-old tale of the hero’s journey: a hero reluctantly answers the call to adventure and leaves the world he knows to undergo trials and overcome challenges to earn his reward and return home a new (and better) person. For those in-the-know The Magic Flute amounts to a 1791 shout-out to the composer and writer’s masonic brethren.

Below are just a couple characteristics of the opera that have provided fuel to the fire of speculation.

The goal of the free masons and Tamino in the opera is to overcome that which ruins the spirit of man (perverted thought, uncurbed emotions and destructive actions) in order to ascend the stairs of the one Lodge – the Universe – to attain universal oneness.

Unification of opposing forces of the universe to achieve oneness: On the one side you have the dark evil Queen of the Night who also represents in addition darkness/Isis/Booz/feminine/moon/fire/evil/chaos and on the other you have Sarastro who represents light/Osiris/Jakin/masculine/sun/water/good/order. You can go deep into philosophy, psychology and spirituality here and simply say it’s like Yin and Yang, good cannot exist without evil, there can be no Sonnie without Cher — you get the picture.

The steps of a Freemason: Entered Apprentice (youth), Fellow Craft (manhood), Master Builder (old age) – we see similar representations of Tamino as he undergoes his journey in the opera.

The Masonic Triangle (you know the one – look at the back of your 1 dollar bill)  reflected in the many groupings of three in the opera:

Three boys: In the Magic Three, three young boys offer Papageno and Tamino guidance on their journey. They demand of Tamino three traits: steadfastness, patience and secrecy – three golden rules of the free masons. They are thought to symbolize the two deacons and the master of ceremonies of a lodge who likewise accompany new masonic apprentices on their symbolic journey during which they must face the trials of two of the four basic elements: fire and water. Symbolically they may also represent a person’s inner voice of reason.



Three temples appear on stage in the Magic Flute: The “Temple of Wisdom”, the “Temple of Reason” and the “Temple of Nature” similar to three of the pillars of belief of the free masons – the other two: strength and beauty. The Temple of Wisdom (Solomon’s Temple) should symbolize the temple of humanity, in which all people are “brothers” who should unite in a higher spirituality. (Beethoven was a mason too which — if you read the lyrics of Ode to Joy explains the brotherhood concept pretty well).

The three chords in E-flat major in the overture and grand final:  Mozart had written quite a few numbers for the masonic lodges and liked to use E-flat, which has three flats arranged in triangular form (the “Masonic Trinity” sheet music style). Since then, the E-flat has often been referred to as the Masonic key.

Three musical knocks throughout the opera represented by wind instruments (beginning of second part of overture).

Characters in the Opera

Tamino: The initiate who is willing to undergo the trials set forth in order to achieve a higher state of being is thought to symbolize a masonic initiate.

Sarastro: (the Italian name for Zarathustra) The spiritual leader who resides in the seven circles of the sun -perhaps symbolic of the lodge Grand Master. Or perhaps Osiris (believed to be the personification of Truth) and the powers of the sun. In freemasonry seven represents the seven liberal arts and sciences (grammar, rhetoric, logic, geometry, arithmetic, music and astronomy) but also the seven planets (belief at the time).

Magic Flute Stage with Queen of the Night

Magic Flute Stage with Queen of the Night

Papageno: the character of Papageno is a bird catcher and someone satisfied by life’s simple pleasures. Rather than striving to reach a higher state of existence/awareness, Papageno would prefer to forgo hardship in order to indulge in earthly delights (women and wine). Nowadays, Homer Simpson would be the embodiment of Papageno. Many purport that masonic beliefs also based on principles and values from ancient Egypt. Indeed, the first set designers of the opera referred to drawings of Egyptian monuments. Interesting is therefore the similarity between Papageno, a creature with a man’s head, and a bird’s body, and the ancient Egyptian creature of Ba. Ba has been described as the spiritual part of human beings that survives death – that part that makes you who you are and unique from everyone else and the Egyptians believed rises from the corpse to embark on the journey into the afterlife. An explanation of how both theories would coincide is that perhaps only that part of a soul able to overcome secular desires for the sake of spirituality will exist beyond the earthly world.

Symbolic rituals/tasks

Rites of purification before entering the temple: thought to be symbolic of lodge rituals.

The journey of the initiate from the veil of the night (the Queen of the Night – Isis and the powers of the moon – represented in the number 5 and the star (five points)),  into the Sun Temple of Sarastro (represented by the number 3 and the triangle or pyramid) The ascension of an initiate from apprentice to fellow craft to master builder.

Environment/ Objects

The forest: perhaps a symbol of the unconscious and all its wilderness

Symbols of the free masons

Symbols of the free masons

Nature: animals tamed by the magic flute – harmony with nature – order from chaos

Magic flute: an instrument crafted from wood that turns into gold by the end of the opera (ancient Egyptians were thought to be master alchemists who held the secret for producing precious medals). Music holds the power to instill harmony and raise “man” to otherworldly states. The flute enchants nature and brings it under control.

White robe: At the end of the journey the initiate is given a white robe representing purity.

Historically the masons have upheld a strict code of confidentiality, in part, to survive. They didn’t want to suffer the bloody end of the Knights of Templar who got on the wrong side of the king. Many of the ideas promoted by the free masons (education over birth – meaning a commoner could be equal to a nobleman) were threatening to the established systems (like the nobility and the Roman Catholic Church). Even more so at the time of The Magic Flute since its debut immediately followed the French Revolution. In addition, the masons probably recognized early on that a secret handshake here and a discreet compass there had a cool factor that drew members. Every child with a clubhouse, gang with a pair of shoes, and military unit with a clandestine mission knows that the secret knock, shoestring color, or patch makes you “in” and when you are “in” you are not “out” and can be readily identified by fellow brothers as one of the gang and not a woeful wannabe.

Was Mozart’s work on The Magic Flute somehow connected to his death? The free masons are infamously strict about their code of secrecy and said to have graphic symbolic gestures which signify the painful death he who breaks the code of silence will suffer.

Did the interweaving of masonic symbols into The Magic Flute amount to a severe and fatal breach of confidentiality? Since Mozart’s body was buried in a mass grave in St. Marx Cemetery in Vienna, the world will probably never know for sure. What would seem to exonerate Mozart’s brothers from accusations of foul play is the fact that Mozart’s fellow collaborator in The Magic Flute, Emanuel Schikaneder, continued to live and perform another two decades before losing his marbles and dying impoverished in Vienna at the age of 61.

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The Magic Flute by W.A.Mozart. BBC/animation/ part1

  The Magic Flute by W.A. Mozart BBC / animation / part 2    Check out the dancing rhino – who can resist a dancing rhino? Gotta get me a magic flute to calm down spectators at heated soccer matches!

The Magic Flute by W.A. Mozart BBC / animation / part 3



18 Tell-tale Signs Your Guy’s Really A Krampus

1. Football season ended but the horns stayed on

You just thought he was a die-hard Vikings fan but he’s never been to Minnesota and didn’t know the lyrics to “Skol Vikings”.

2. His toothbrush is a chisel

 3. When July arrived, he was still donning the fur jumpsuit

Some people are always cold, you thought. And you were sure Great Uncle Voronkov must have spent a fortune on it. A little unconventional for sure, but it also demonstrated irresistible fashion daring.

Krampuses prefer fur

Krampuses prefer fur

4. The card beside your photo in his wallet, is a Krampus store frequent shoppers card

5. He carries a basket instead of a backpack

Though he insists that his choice book bag is more environmentally friendly than backpacks made in developing countries by child labor, you couldn’t help but notice the naughty child compartment label hanging from the side.

Krampus Cow Bells

Krampus Cow Bells

6. He wears cow bells on his butt

It makes him easier to find in Home Depot but they can get a bit annoying in the movie theater.

7. He always has chains but never a bike

 8. Bring-along campfire

Whenever you go camping, he has a burning cauldron in tow. And you thought he was just an über-prepared eagle scout.

9. He owns a broom

He may insist on calling it a “Rute” but hey, at least he has one. If only he could manage to use it without always smacking you on the legs and derrière.

10. He disappears all night on December 5


Krampuses also have glow-in-the-dark eyes

Krampuses also have glow-in-the-dark eyes

11. He grunts

You thought he had a bad case of snoring but he grunts ALL THE TIME.

12. He grew up in a cave

And his name’s not Flintstone and he never lived in Matera, Italy.

13. Little kids are on their best behavior when he’s around

They cower, do their homework, say please and thank you and even volunteer to do more chores (preferably errands that take them far away).

14. He buys you eau de toilette La Chèvre for your birthday

15. He doesn’t walk, he hops, runs or chases kids

16. His favorite song is “Ich bin das Böse”

17. When everyone else at the concert whipped out their iPhone flashlight App, he lit his torch.

St. Nikolaus - Dec 6

Nikolaus Day is celebrated one day after Krampus and the two are often traveling companions

18. A bearded guy in red suit, tall cap and long walking stick hurling out bags of candy to all who pass shows up wherever you go.

 19. He likes it when you’re naughty

Nevermind. On second thought, that proves nothing.

More Krampus Info here:
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KC and Krampus

KC and an Aussie girl try to tame a Krampus at Schloss Neugebäude, Vienna


Your Goose is Cooked – or roasted and served with Red Kraut, Dumplings and Zweigelt

November 11, St. Martin’s Day (Martinitag) with goose served the week before and after all over Austria

If you’ve been to Austria in early to mid-November and noticed all the laid-back turkeys gobbling around their wide-eyed heads-in-the-pile-of-leave goose feathered friends, you may have asked yourself, “What’s up with that?” It’s November and the turkeys are chilled but the geese look baked? Or roasted rather. Yep.

Here in Yodel land the geese have a lot to ruffle their feathers about come November because the week before and after November 11 is all about getting some geese. On November 11, Austrians celebrate Martinitag. And no, stop thinking of trips to the cocktail bar all the time. It’s not that kind of Martini, Mr. Bond. It is Martini as in St. Martin’s Day. So get a bit saintly now. And just like we will traditionally eat ourselves some light and dark turkey meat for Thanksgiving, the Austrians are digging into some red Kraut and goose meat for St. Martini.

Martini Celebration 1863

Martini Celebration 1863

The tradition of eating a goose on Martini Day might be traced back to Martini Day also being the Hauptzinstag (Main Interest Day – interest as in finance not in, I’m heading to the dance floor, got any interest?). Anyway, the Hauptzinstag was the first day of the new business year and also the day that the farmhands got paid, leasing contracts signed, taxes settled, and servants could change their employers. In order to keep down the costs associated with feeding the livestock throughout the long cold hard winters, a lot of farm animals were slaughtered. Including – yes, my feathered friends, sorry to say, including geese. So long story short – a good excuse to fill up the bellies before advent fasting rolled around.

What’s up with the lanterns, kids?
Another, younger tradition on Martini Day, is for children to make colorful lanterns out of paper and cardboard in kindergarten class. Then on the eve of St. Martin’s Day (November 11) the kiddies proudly carry their self-made pyro masterpieces in a procession around the local church while singing sweet little lantern carols and reciting St. Martin poems to all the goo-goo eyed Mas and Paps worried about the flames the little ones are toting dangerously clothes to the winter coats and scarves of their lantern carrying kindergarten peers. So if you see a bunch kids playing with matches, carrying lanterns and singing somber songs, don’t get worried that the apocalypse might be coming and you missed the memo.

Who was this St. Martin Fellow  anyway?
St. Martin’s Day is a celebration of Martin of Tours and the date coincides with his burial date on November 11, 397. Martin was apparently a Roman soldier who, seeing a beggar freezing in the middle of a snowstorm, cut his own cloak in half to share with the beggar. That night Martin had a dream that Jesus was wearing the other half of his cloak and an angel praised the soldier who had never been baptized for his benevolent act of charity.

Roasted goose, dumplings and apple kraut

Roasted goose, dumplings and apple kraut

But why the goose? There are many legends why of course. Here are some of my favorites: The townsfolk all wanted Martin to be a bishop but humble Martin didn’t feel worthy of the honor and hid in a goose stall and the cackling disturbed feathered residents betrayed their intruder’s whereabouts with their yattering protests. A second legend is that a gaggle of geese (yep, that’s what a legion of geese are called – a gaggle – aren’t you impressed? Learned something today, didn’t ya?) interrupted Martin during his sermon by marching right into the church right in the middle of the hallelujahs and the serious townsfolk served them up their due, right on the dinner table with Kraut and Knödel.

What’s For Dinner?

Martini Goose at Radatz

Martini “Fastfood” Goose at Radatz in Vienna

Always thinking about your stomach, aren’t you. Well, almost always.
A typical Martini Dinner will include roasted goose served with red kraut (which I adore and it you’ve never tried, you must!) and some stuffing-kind-of-yummy-dumplings. And wine. Don’t forget the wine!

Random Facts about Martini:
Martini Day often marks for Austrian farmers the day that their animals will no longer be “ausgetrieben” (put out to pasture) and will be “eingestallt” (kept in the stalls).

Goose Words 101: Martinsgansessen (Martin Goose Meal), Martinigans (Martin Goose), Martinigansl (Cute little Martin Goose), Rotkraut (red Kraut), Serviettenknödel (Yummy dumplings), Wein (wine – don’t forget the wine for Pete Martin’s sake!), Gänseschar (goose gaggle – you didn’t forget already, did you?)

Where to Get Your Goose:
for a goose on the run, fast food style – inexpensive, quick, but still scrumptuous
Heuriger: really, if you’re in Vienna, there’s no excuse not to call up a Heuriger of your choice and make goose meal reservations for you and your friends (unless they’re booked). I did (@ Schübl Auer and the goose was great) just make sure you specify that you’re coming for the goose and don’t do what I did and forget to specify if you prefer non-smoking. Print This Post
Other places to get your goose:

Heuriger Kierlinger

Zum Martin SeppWeingut Klager

Heuriger Wolff
Heuriger Bach HengelHeuriger Rudolfshof

Heuriger Muth

Heurgier Fuhrgassl Huber
Heuriger ReinprechtHeuriger FeuerwehrwagnerHeuriger Zimmermann


Lyrics to the Martini Song

Ich geh mit meiner Laterne und meine Laterne mit mir, dort oben da leuchten die Sterne, da unten leuchten wir. Mein Licht geht aus, wir gehen nach Haus, rabimmel-rabammel-rabumm! I walk with my little lantern, my little lantern walks with me. Above the stars shine brightly, done here we shine brightly too. My light goes out, I go home now, ra bimmel, ra bammel ra bumm!