Easter custom: Wood consecration in St. Jakob at Thurn

An old tradition during Holy Week in Salzburg's Tennengau region

by Barbara / 28. März 2024 / Event / Tradition
Scheitelweihe St. Jakob - Foto: TVB Puch

Experience traditions - the consecration of the crown on Holy Saturday in St. Jakob am Thurn

Springtime in Tennengau doesn't just mean sprouting flowers and warming rays of sunshine, but also the awakening of old traditions that have touched the hearts of people here in Salzburger Land for generations. Among the numerous Easter customs in Puch, such as tying palm bushes or baking Easter lambs, which characterise Easter in Tennengau, the consecration of the crown at the pilgrimage church of St. Jakob am Thurn has a very special place.

I would like to explain to you what this fascinating custom is all about and why it has become an indispensable part of our Easter celebrations in Salzburg for many of us.

Scheitelweihe St. Jakob am Thurn - Foto: TVB Puch - Gerber

"Come by - at the Scheitelweih" - a custom with a long tradition in Puch

The consecration of the crown is a custom that is practised in some regions of Austria and Bavaria at Easter. Logs of wood, the so-called "Scheitel", are blessed at the Easter bonfire on Easter night and then taken home by the faithful and hung up there as a kind of lucky charm.

This special Easter custom has regained importance in recent years. In many communities, crown consecrations are once again taking place and are well received by the population. The custom combines tradition and customs with the Christian celebration of Easter and helps to strengthen the community.

Procedure of the wood consecration in St. Jakob am Thurn

The characteristic sound of sawing and drilling fills the air in the workshops in Puch during Holy Week as preparations for this special day are in full swing. The dry pieces of beech wood are drilled through and threaded onto a sturdy, thick wire. It is essential to have a wooden handle around the wire to prevent burns from the resulting heat.

There are different opinions and traditions regarding the number of pieces of wood that are threaded onto the wire. Some have one piece of wood per person in the household hanging on the wire, others have 3 pieces of wood as a symbolic number of the Easter season for "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" and some simply do it by feel and have no particular reason for the number of pieces.

Scheitel für Weihe - Foto: TVB Puch - Gerber

On Holy Saturday evening, people can be seen making a pilgrimage to the pilgrimage church with a wicker basket for the consecration of food and the crowns in their hands. In front of the church, a bonfire is already prepared in a fireproof bowl. The consecration takes place before the resurrection service at 7 pm on the church square between the old imperial lime tree and the statue of St John of Nepomuk. Whether big or small, young or old, man or woman, old-timer or "Zuagroasta" (newcomer), it doesn't matter, everyone is welcome to bring their crowns to the church square for the consecration.

Speisenweihe St. Jakob - Foto: TVB Puch - Gerber

Before the priest appears with the altar servers for the blessing, the crowns are placed in the fire. Care must be taken to ensure that the crowns are only charred and do not burn completely. There have been one or two people who were not careful enough and then went home alone with the wire - without a consecrated crown.

Segnung Scheitelweihe - Foto: TVB Puch - Gerber

After the blessing of the crowns in the Easter fire, where the Easter candle is also lit for the first time, the priest and the altar servers enter the pilgrimage church for the resurrection service and the crown consecrators pull the crowns out of the fire and extinguish them in the nearby Jakobsbrünnlein.

Jakobsbrünnlein - Scheitelweihe - Foto: TVB Puch - Gerber

After the festive mass, the churchgoers return home with the charred and consecrated logs and the consecrated food basket, where there are again several possibilities as to what happens to the logs.

Protection and blessing for house & farm

The wooden crowns serve as a sign of blessing and are often kept in a special place in the house or stable. The exact use of the consecrated logs can vary depending on the family tradition. Some ways in which the blessed logs can be used include

  • As protection in the home: the logs are often placed in the living area or kitchen or hung on the wall to protect the home from mischief and evil spirits.
  • As part of the Easter decorations: The blessed crowns can be integrated into the Easter decorations, for example as part of the Easter bush or as table decorations during the Easter holidays.
  • For special occasions: In some families, consecrated crowns are used on special occasions, such as illness, natural disasters or other challenges, to ask for blessings and protection.
  • As a gift: Sometimes the blessed crowns are also given to friends or family members as a sign of solidarity and blessing.

Overall, the consecrated crowns symbolise the belief in the resurrection of Christ and the wish for blessing and protection in one's own home.

Scheitelweihe St. Jakob am Thurn - Foto: TVB Puch - Gerber

Origin, meaning and symbolism of the crown consecration

The origin of the consecration of the crown is not clear. It is assumed that the custom goes back to pagan spring rituals in which logs of wood were worshipped as a symbol of the fertility of the earth. In Christianity, the custom was then associated with the resurrection of Christ. The blessed crowns were regarded as protection against evil and harm and were kept in the house as a lucky charm.

The consecration of the crown is a custom with a variety of symbolism. The wood of the crown symbolises life, the fire the power of resurrection and the priest's blessing the protection of God. The consecration of the crown is an expression of faith in the resurrection of Christ and the hope of eternal life.

Scheitelweihe St. Jakob - Foto: TVB Puch - Gerber

Variants of the custom

The consecration of the crown can take different forms in different regions or even in neighbouring villages. In some places, the crowns are carried from house to house on Easter Sunday morning and exchanged for eggs or other gifts. In other places, the crowns are carried in a procession through the parish on Easter Monday. The faithful solemnly carry the blessed crowns through the streets and sing traditional Easter songs.

This diversity of variations makes the crown blessing a multifaceted and lively custom that reflects Austria's cultural diversity and regional traditions.

The crown consecration - a custom full of tradition, faith & community

In conclusion, the consecration of the crown at Easter builds a bridge between the past and the present. With its deep roots in ancient traditions, it links Christian Easter with the heritage of our ancestors in a unique way. The blessing of the crown symbolises not only protection from disaster, but also the hope of a new life and the resurrection of Christ.

By participating in this custom, we not only experience the connection to our religious roots, but also the connection to our community and the nature around us. May the consecration of the crown remain a living symbol of our faith and cultural identity in the future.

Be there and experience the crown consecration up close. A unique ritual that unites tradition, faith and community. Come along and be part of this special Easter tradition!

I wish you all a happy Easter and blessed holidays! May this special time bring you joy, hope and peace.

This way to St. Jakob am Thurn in Puch near Salzburg:

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