Consecration of herbs on the occasion of the Assumption of Mary in Salzburg

A time travel through tradition and spirituality

by Barbara / 10. August 2023 / Event / Nature / Tradition
Kräuterweihe in St. Jakob am Thurn © TVB Puch

The tradition of the consecration of herbs in Puch & St. Jakob am Thurn on August 15.

In our picturesque villages of Puch bei Hallein and St. Jakob am Thurn, the residents keep alive a special tradition in Austria that is celebrated every year on August 15 on the Feast of the Assumption. The consecration of herbs, an ancient custom with deep religious roots, draws parishioners throughout Salzburgerland to local churches to have their bouquets of herbs blessed.

Event tip: Herb consecration in St. Jakob & Puch 2023

Holy Mass in the Wallfahrtskirche St. Jakobus will be held at 8:30 a.m. for the parish community. Afterwards, the herb bundles brought along will be blessed on the church square under the old Kaiser lime tree. Blessed herb bundles will be distributed after the blessing (voluntary donation requested).
Kräuterweihe in St. Jakob © TVB Puch
The festive service in the parish of Puch starts at 10:00 a.m. with Marian hymns and blessing of herbs in the church. The festive mass is musically framed by Franz Mayrhofer on the organ and the singing of Heidi & Michael Manhart (from Händl and Elgar to Mozart and Sarah McLachlan). Sale of the blessed herb bushes after church. Followed by a morning pint for employees and friends of the parish.

Kräuterweihe Puch © Pfarre Puch

Which meaning, the expiration and which backgrounds of a herb consecration in Salzburg has is taken in this contribution just as more exactly under the magnifying glass, as well as also Tipps for the binding and keeping of the Kräuterbüscherl are shown.

The significance of the consecration of herbs

The consecration of herbs on August 15, Assumption Day, has a long tradition in Puch bei Hallein and St. Jakob am Thurn. On this day, the belief in the healing power of nature and the patron saint Mary are united. The consecrated bouquets of herbs are not only meant to protect the home from harm, but also serve as a symbol of health and fertility. This tradition combines the spirituality of the parishioners with their close connection to nature.

The roots of the tradition

The consecration of herbs has its roots in ancient pagan customs that existed before Christianization. With the spread of Christianity, these rituals were integrated into the church calendar to bind the locals to the faith. Here in Puch bei Hallein and St. Jakob am Thurn the tradition has been preserved over the centuries, got more importance again due to the general trend "to collect herbs" and has become again an important cultural event that strengthens the identity and cohesion of the communities.

Kräuter für Kräuterweihe © TVB Puch

Already in the time before Christianity, offerings of medicinal herbs found their place as an expression of gratitude for the protection of the gods as well as for the healing power of the plants. In the eighth century AD, the practice of blessing herbs initially experienced a ban, which was, however, ignored by the population. The Catholic Church then transformed the custom and linked it to the veneration of Mary, the Mother of God, and a special legend:

According to this tradition, the apostles went to Mary's tomb three days after her passing. But there they no longer found a tomb, since Mary had been taken up body and soul into heaven. Instead of the tomb, a wonderful fragrance spread, smelling of roses, lilies and fragrant medicinal herbs - so the legend says.

What does Assumption of the Virgin Mary mean?

 "Assumption of Mary" refers to Catholic beliefs and the feast that celebrates the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, into Heaven. According to this doctrine, Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven after her death, instead of expiring or being buried as is customary.

Unlike other holidays in Austria that honor historical events or more general religious aspects, this holiday focuses on the special relationship between Mary and Jesus in the Christian faith. The Assumption of Mary is an important holiday in the Catholic Church, celebrated in many countries with religious services, processions and customs. It has been a public holiday since 1952 and is celebrated on August 15, regardless of weekdays.

Pfarrkirche Puch mit Mutter Gottes Statue © TVB Puch - Gerber

Did you know? In honor of Mary, a solemnly decorated statue of the Holy Mother of God is carried through the village by the four "women carriers" during the Corpus Christi and Thanksgiving processions in Puch and St. Jakob, as well as during Jakobikirtag!

Making herb bouquets for the consecration of herbs

On the feast of the Assumption of Mary, it is customary to make bunches of herbs and bless them. This tradition is supposed to offer protection against illnesses and storms as well as to promote happiness in marriage and the blessing of offspring. Herbs and plants from the own garden, the meadows in front of the door and it is also gladly exchanged among neighbors and friends the treasures from the garden!

Kräuterbuschen © TVB Puch

7 to 99 herbs: How many herbs do you use for the herb bouquet?

For the blessing of herbs - depending on the region - bouquets are made of seven, nine, twelve, 24 or more different herbs. In Salzburg it is customary to tie the so-called "Neunerbuschen". This traditionally consists of a mullein in the center, surrounded by yarrow, St. John's wort, chamomile, arnica, wormwood, valerian, peppermint and centaury. As a symbol of Mary, roses and ears of grain are also often integrated into the bush.

Kräuterbüscherl Kräuterweihe © TVB Puch - Gerber

Tip: HERB BINDING AT THE SALZBURGER HEIMATWERK - Sat, 12.8.2023 from 10-15 clock!

The experienced "TEH herbalist" Martina Egger from St. Koloman and founder of AlmSinn, who also offers herbal walks to the nearby Erentrudisalm in Elsbethen, accompanies you expertly while tying the Büscherl and shares her extensive knowledge about the herbs used. Martina brings a wide variety of fresh herbs from her own cultivation and wild collection. So there is a wide selection: From horehound to mugwort, yarrow, mint, mullein, sage, St. John's wort to wild oregano, cistus and much more. In addition to the possibility of tying herb bushes yourself, there is also the option to purchase already tied herb bushes as well as herbal teas and incense.

Kräuter sammeln Martina Egger © Almsinn

The importance of the number of herbs in herb bush use:
Seven: Number of the days of creation, number of completion
Nine: Three times three for the Holy Trinity, number of fertility
Twelve: number of the apostles, number of the tribes of Israel
Fourteen: Number of the emergency helpers
Twenty-four: Two times twelve for the tribes of Israel and the apostles (Old and New Testament)
Ninety-nine: Thirty-three times three for the Holy Trinity

Tying herb bushes - this is how it is done!

When we bind our herb bushes at home for the consecration of herbs, we do not stick to an exact number of herbs. If possible, we keep to a sympoly number, but it is rather the variety and the appearance of the bunches that is important to us. The herb bundle should contain everything that can be found on our farm and in our own meadows. The more colorful and fragrant, the better!

Kräuterbuschen binden © TVB Puch

This is how we make herb bushes for the consecration of herbs at our farm:

1. prepare material: Scissors, natural bast or ribbon, basket

2. collect herbs and plants and cut them in equal length

3. put all herbs on a table and sort them to get a better overview of what herbs are available.

4. starting with mullein (if available) take one of each variety of herbs and form into a bouquet. If needed, you can take more than one per variety.

5. Tie the herb bouquet with the raffia and cut the stems evenly at the bottom.

6. Place the finished bunches of herbs in a basket for the consecration.

Kräuterweihe © TVB Puch

10 ideas: What happens to the herb bushes after the blessing?

After the herb bushes have been blessed at the herb consecration on August 15, there are several possibilities for what you can do with the herbs. Here are some traditional and creative ideas:

  1. Place in the house: Blessed herb bouquets can be placed in various rooms of your home to symbolize protection and blessings. For example, place them on the home altar or in the "Lord God's Corner," on windowsills, in the kitchen, or in the living room. The presence of the bouquets can create a peaceful and blessed atmosphere.
  2. Place in the car: You could also hang a small bouquet of herbs in your car for symbolic protection during your travels.
  3. As a gift: Share the blessed herb bushes with friends or family members. Passing on the blessing and protection can be a loving gesture. So even as you're tying them, think about making more, and perhaps smaller, clusters.
  4. Store dried: Hang the herb bushes in a well-ventilated place to dry. Once dried, the herbs could be used as decorative elements in your home or for other purposes such as baths or incense for the Rauhnächten during Advent.
  5. Use in the Kitchen: Some of the blessed herbs can be used in the kitchen to enhance dishes with their aroma and meaning. For example, you could use the herbs in soups, stews, or teas.
  6. Ritual Use: Use the dried herb clusters in personal rituals or meditations. They can be used as part of your spiritual practice to seek protection, blessings or healing.
  7. Protection for Livestock: Herb bundles on farms serve multiple functions by not only serving as decorative ornaments, but also providing protection from insects and promoting the well-being of livestock. These fragrant bundles contain herbs such as lavender and chamomile, which repel insects and have stress-reducing properties for animals. In addition, the herbs act as a natural food source for livestock and contribute to a relaxed atmosphere for both people and animals on the farm.
  8. Grave decorations: the blessed herbs not only symbolize protection and blessings, but also carry the natural connection to the earth and the transience of life. Placed on graves, the herb bundles add special meaning to the remembrance of the deceased and create a link between spiritual tradition and remembrance.
  9. Get creative! Let your creativity run wild and use the blessed herbs to craft beautiful jewelry, such as artistic pendants and bracelets or door wreaths and dried flower rings for the wall. Blessed herbs add even more meaning to creative artwork and artfully bring protection and blessings to your home.
  10. Compost: When the herb clusters have fulfilled their meaning or are no longer fresh, you could compost them to return their energy to the earth.

Remember that the use of the blessed herb bouquets is a personal choice and you can, of course, use them in the way that is most harmonious for you. The bouquets carry a symbolic meaning of protection, blessing and connection, so their presence is a valuable addition to your everyday life and spirituality.

One for me and one for you!

We always tie more and therefore somewhat smaller bouquets than we need for our own needs and then give them away to family members, friends and neighbors or simply to people who do not have their own herb garden or were sick at the herb blessing in the church and could not be there. After the blessing, I exchange the herb bush from last year at the "Herrgott's Winkel". Maybe this year I will try one of the other ideas of mine. Especially the modern wall decoration with dried flowers, which you can see everywhere at the moment and are available for purchase, could be a nice alternative to the simply lying there bouquet.

Kräuterbüscherl Pfarre Puch © TVB Puch

From generation to generation

It is important that this tradition and the knowledge about the herbs is not lost and that the children are already involved in collecting and tying the herb bushes. Passing on the tradition of consecrating herbs to the younger generation is of particular importance in order to keep the cultural heritage alive. By actively participating in the gathering and tying of the herb bundles and accompanying the church to the blessing, children not only experience first-hand the beauty and significance of this centuries-old practice, but also learn values such as community, spirituality and respect for nature.

Kräuter sammeln © TVB Puch - Gerber

Involving children in the process of bundling herbs allows them to connect directly with nature and develop a deeper understanding of the healing properties of plants. Collecting herbs together not only fosters practical skills, but also teaches the value of respect for the environment and sustainable use of resources.

The consecration of herbs and the women's three-peat!

The traditional consecration of herbs on the Feast of the Assumption in Salzburg is more than just a symbolic act. It connects us to a long history of faith, closeness to nature and community cohesion. But the tradition does not end with the blessing of the herb bushes in church - it moves on to the FrauendreiĂźiger.

    In the Frauendreißiger, the period of 30 days after the consecration of herbs on the Feast of the Assumption, the harvesting and gathering of herbs continues to play an important role. During this time, herbs are at the peak of their healing power due to their focused energy and potency. The time is used for making healing tinctures, aromatic tea blends or fragrant incenses.

The consecration of herbs and the Women's Thirty remind us of the importance of maintaining our traditions and passing them on to the next generation. By tying herb bushes, sharing knowledge and togetherness during the FrauendreiĂźiger, we create a bridge between yesterday and today, allowing the values of community, respect for nature and spiritual connection to live on.

Kräuterbüscherl Puch © Pfarre Puch

All about herbs & Co!

I am not an expert on the subject of medicinal herbs and the wondrous world of plants, I am more fascinated by the lived traditions and customs in our region and live or create this also with pleasure.

If you want to learn more about the world of herbs and get inspired by great herbal recipes, check out the posts of our Puch author Silja Parke from the Wilde Möhre Blog. She is not only a certified herbal educator and spice expert IHK, but is also a board member of the Salzburg Association for Herbal Education and Nature Education (SKN) and has already published your own herbal book "Ganz schön wild".

Sija Parke vom Wilde Möhre Blog

Here are my top 3 articles of your already 10 published PUCH MAGAZINE articles.

  1. Five recipes for grilling from nature: Salzburg barbecue refine with local herbs, flowers & berries.
  2. Stinging nettle fruit: 4 recipes for your well-being: you will encounter the healthy herb in many places in Puch.
  3. Six fine gifts from nature: give away winter spices & precious natural treasures from the forest!

Grillrezepte © Silja Parke - Wilde Möhre Blog

Off to the herb consecration in Salzburgerland!

Even though I do not (yet) fully understand the healing power of herbs, it gives me great pleasure to collect the various herbs for the herb consecration together with the children and to bind the colorful and fragrant herb bushes.

May the blessed herbs always remind us of the beauty and importance of these traditions and encourage us to preserve and celebrate them with heart and soul.

Auf zur Kräuterweihe © TVB Puch

One of my favorite herbs is rosemary, which I also like to use for Advent wreath making! Not only does it smell wonderful and make you hungry for a juicy steak or fresh baked potato, but its stable structure makes it the best herb for tying bouquets and wreaths.

What herbs can't be missing from your herb bundle for the next herb consecration? Write it in the comments or show us your herb bundle and link us on Instagram. Current pictures of the herb consecrations in Puch & St. Jakob are also published on Instagram under @visitpuch.

PS: And since August 15 is, after all, a day of celebration, don't forget to throw on your dirndl or lederhosen! A celebration in traditional costume makes the festivities in Salzburg that much more festive ;-)

Hier geht`s nach Puch bei Salzburg:

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