Watching the Corpus Christi Procession in Hallstat, Austria

We had been darned lucky when we were in Hallstat. Of the two days that we were there, Saturday and Sunday, Sunday turned out to be the day when the little town of Hallstat celebrated Corpus Christi. Corpus Christi commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus, and is celebrated in late May or early June. The date changes every year. Not that we made our plans targeting the celebrations. They simply coincided and what a lovely coincidence…

They start Corpus Christi with the Mass

All the residents turn up in their traditional best and make a beeline for the Catholic Church perched on the hill overlooking the lake. An elaborate Mass follows with kids, grown-ups and elders participating in the choir and proceedings. As I stood right at the back, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, so as not to disturb the tradition, I found tears streaming down my cheeks. It must have been the sincerity with which the town had gathered here, their love for tradition, their quiet yet powerful way of guiding their little ones to the fold….and perhaps because I was reminded of the 2nd November procession that takes place in my hometown, Shillong, in a similar fashion and how it has been decades since I saw it last. Whatever must have been the trigger, I felt a deep calm and joy inside. And found myself praying….

In a while, the Church members lined up outside with their traditional flags, flower baskets, musical instruments, looking every bit picture perfect, and start to walk down the town square. Thankfully, the day was bright and sunny, making the procession look every bit regale. After offering prayers and flowers at the Cross in the square, and singing hymns, the procession moves towards the lake…

Two big boats had been decorated with Birch leaves and fresh flowers. The main teams of the procession get to their respective boats – one for the choir and one for the priest and his men. They set sail towards the center of the lake with scores of smaller boats following them, singing and sitting pretty. One fairy-tale sight I tell you!

While you can hire a boat and get onto the lake like the residents, we preferred to stay on shore, and follow the picturesque setting from one end of the road to the other. Along the way we went berserk taking pictures and stopping by the bakery for some pastries and swiss-rolls.

The festivities carry on until mid-noon. We didn’t wait for it to end. Instead, decided to go for the Salt Mine tour (Read: Salt Mine tour in Hallstat, Austria) for which you need to take the furnicular to the top of the hill. And guess what we saw? The lovely lake down below with the little boats and music drifting up….

Such a blessed and beautiful morning spent…

P.S:  For a complete Austria itinerary and tour details, read — A Perfect Summer Holiday in Austria