Corpus Christi: We celebrate Prangertag in Puch & St. Jakob!

High feast day & public holiday in SalzburgerLand

by Barbara / 03. Juni 2021 / Event / Tradition
Prangertag in St. Jakob am Thurn © TVB Puch

Festival processions through Puch & St. Jakob am Thurn

Today is Corpus Christi or, or as we say here in Salzburg: PRANGERTAG! The churches and processional figures have been festively decked out, the dirndl dresses and lederhosen pulled out of the closet, and the horse tackle polished to gleaming perfection by the Jakobireiter. But what is Corpus Christi really all about and why, here in Puch, do we actually celebrate Prangertag twice?

To each parish its own celebration

Because we actually have two parishes in Puch, on Thursday we celebrate Corpus Christi services at the pilgrimage church in St. Jakob am Thurn and then, on the following Sunday, at the parish church in Puch. Both days feature a high mass with a procession through town of local folk groups, followed by a lunchtime folk get-together and live music performed by the Puch village band.

Festprozession Puch bei Hallein

Two days, one festival

The underlying church festival is the same in Puch as well as St. Jakob. Yet there are a few small details that make each Corpus Christi celebration a little unique. Be that the festively adorned statue of St. James or the historic Jakobischützen, whom you will only encounter here in St. Jakob. Then, there is a wonderfully decorated altar with a floral carpet in front of Gasthof Kirchenwirt, which is lovingly set up for the procession in Puch every year by senior owner August Rettenbacher. 

Ultimately, it is above all the people of each parish who make the local Corpus Christi celebrations something truly special. Everybody comes festively dressed in dirndl, lederhosen, a suit or their “Sunday best” to mass, eagerly looking forward to celebrating the Prangertag together. Celebrations that are punctuated by music, song, prayer and ceremonial salutes. With a festival so colorful and loud, it is no wonder that spirits are always kept so high.

What is actually celebrated on Corpus Christi?

10 days after Whitsun or 60 days after Easter is Corpus Christi. A national holiday in Austria, it falls at the earliest on 21 May and no later than 24 June. This Thursday marks the Roman-Catholic "Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ". On this day, the Church commemorates the establishment of the sacrament of the Eucharist by Jesus Christ himself. Actually, Corpus Christi ought to be on Maundy Thursday, since this is when the Last Supper took place with Christ and his disciples. But because no major festivals are allowed during the solemnity of Holy Week, the actual feast day was set for the first Thursday after the octave of Whitsuntide.

Altar Fronleichnam Kirchenwirt Puch

Meaning of Corpus Christi

But why do we refer to Corpus Christi as "Prangertag" and what does it actually mean? Let’s get this out of the way to begin with: Corpus Christi has nothing to do with a corpse. Quite the contrary. The name comes from “corpus” (= body) and “Christi” (= Christ) and is an expression of thanks. The feast day highlights elements of the Eucharist and has been in existence since 1209. At that time, Juliana of Liège realized in a dream that the feast of the sacrament of the Eucharist was still absent in the church calendar. 100 years later, Pope John XXII formerly declared it a Feast Day in 1317, one that is still celebrated to this day.

In Puch, people attend the "Prongertog"

Corpus Christ is known here by various names: including Prangertag, Kranzltag, Sakramentstag and Blutstag. Here in Salzburg, Corpus Christi is commonly referred to as Prangertag and pronounced, in dialect, as PRONGERTOG! We also say "Heit gemma zum PRONGERTOG" (Today we are going to the Prangertag!).

The name "Prangertag" derives from the fact that it wasn’t only the people who got prettied up for Corpus Christi. Likewise, the outdoor altars were festively decorated with flowers, while birch branches were leaned against the houses along the procession route. This prompted people to talk about PRANGEN (PRAHLEN in High German, essentially meaning “showing off”), which explains how Corpus Christi got its name.

Heiliger Jakobus

5 Special aspects of the Corpus Christi celebrations

There are many church festivals during the year, while processions also take place at Harvest Festival and on St. James’s Day. So, what makes Corpus Christi so unique? 5 Corpus Christi traditions immediately come to mind:

1. The Monstrance

The focal point of each Corpus Christi procession is the monstrance with the Host, carried by the priest. At each station of the procession, the monstrance is used to proclaim blessings and intercession to all points of the compass. This liturgical vessel made of valuable gold decorated with precious stones symbolically represents the body of Christ and the Eucharist. The monstrance is not held in bare hands either. For its protection and as a symbol of veneration, a liturgical veil covers the hands of the priest.

2. The Baldachin

The priest with the monstrance is accompanied by four “heaven bearers”. These four men carry the Baldachin – an embroidered canopy made of fabric stretched between four poles. This canopy is intended to protect the body of Christ and further emphasizes the gravitas of the priest with the monstrance. Being chosen as one of the bearers of the baldachin is regarded as quite an honor.

3. Processional Figures

As part of the procession, various holy figures are borne through town, figures which had been decorated with colorful flowers from the meadows and farmhouse gardens just the day before.  In Puch, a statue of the Virgin Mary is processed and in St. Jakob, the black Loretto Virgin as well as the local patron saint, St. James.

4. The Procession

The Corpus Christi Procession leads to four stations where, at outdoor altars, parts of the Gospels are read out loud.  In St. Jakob am Thurn, the procession passes Gasthaus Der Schützenwrit and circles the village lake, while in Puch it makes its way through the village and past Gasthaus Kirchenwirt.

At the conclusion of every stop at the four stations, the priest performs a sacramental blessing to all points of the compass: "With divine grace, may this town and all who live here be blessed". This is followed by a rifle salute in honor of God. In St. Jakob am Thurn, fired by the Jakobischützen and in Puch, by the historic Schützenkompanie Puch.

5. The Schifteln

After the procession, spirits are high, meaning it’s time to continue with a lunchtime folk gathering known as a Frühschoppen: Puch village band performs live on Thursday at the Schützenwirt and on Sunday at the Kirchenwirt. The only thing still missing are the popular Schifteln. Traditionally, these can be bought in St. Jakob at the "Kramer" and at "Elke Ellinger Gemischtwarenhandel", and in Puch at market stands.

Schifteln are a kind of sliced gingerbread and are an essentialy part of any true "Prongertog" in Puch or St. Jakob. They are also eaten with a glass of beer before lunch. And if you can restrain yourself, they are a great souvenir of the Prangertag for you to enjoy on the following day.


“Schen Prongertog!” – enjoy the holiday!  

Do you like to go to church festivals in Salzburg or have you ever attended a special church celebration during your holidays? Prangertag, especially, is the first real opportunity for local folk groups to gather outdoors again, get dressed up in their dirndls and lederhosen, and demonstrate their zest for life and sense of community for everyone in the village to see. People get together and, because it is a holiday, have plenty of time for a nice chat with their neighbors. They treat themselves to a shot or two of schnapps at the market stands, enjoy the wind music, while the kids love being able to run around and play.

Festmesse St. Jakob am Thurn

Hier geht`s nach Puch bei Salzburg

What are your own personal experiences? Do you know any other special events or customs associated with Corpus Christi? If so, write us a note in the comments section. And if you have photos from our celebrations in Puch, drop us an Email or link under @visitpuch on Instagram.

Enjoy the holiday!


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