FROM THE “REGGELE” TO THE “STRIEZL”: THE CUSTOMS OF THE VAL SARENTINO/SARNTAL VALLEY CAN BE SEEN IN THE ROHRERHAUS IN SARENTINO VILLAGE
Are customs still of use today?
There is no doubt that people find not just comfort but also joy in their culture and their customs, a notion that is gaining ever more ground today. For the inhabitants of the Val Sarentino/Sarntal Valley, their customs are the greatest asset connecting their young people with the older generation.
The story behind the Sacred Heart of Jesus bonfires
The Sacred Heart of Jesus bonfires are a tradition dating back to the 19th century, and are lit in remembrance of a vow once made to the sacred heart of Jesus. Faced by the threat of Napoleon I and his troupes, Tyrolean Landstände (assemblies of estates) entrusted their land to the “Sacred Heart of Jesus”. Ever since, on the first Sunday after Corpus Christi, bonfires have been lit for the Feast of the Sacred Heart to commemorate the vow.
The Tyrolean freedom fighter Andreas Hofer renewed this vow before the Berg-Isel battle against the French and the Bavarians. Hofer’s troupes won a surprise victory, and declared the Feast of the Sacred Heart to be a special public holiday.
This is still reflected today in the bonfires which are lit every year on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, lighting up the night sky over South Tyrol. The bonfires also have another historic background – during times of war, bonfires were lit as visual signs to begin the battle. Today, the bonfires are lit to preserve the old customs and traditions. Come to Sarntal and experience this tradition for yourself!
TIP: For many years, the AVS Sarntal Group has traditionally lit a Sacred Heart of Jesus bonfire on the fantastic Stallner Wände lookout point above Bundschen.
Traditional Sarntal costume
Sarntal is one of the few valleys in South Tyrol which still places an emphasis on traditional folk costumes. These are worn every Sunday, and sometimes even during the week. The traditional costume here is unostentatious, but exquisite and valuable. It is one of the most stylistically pure costumes in the entire German-speaking world, and has remained faithful to its origins.
Observing a group of Sarntal locals, Ludwig Thoma wrote that their dignified appearance reminded him of British Lords. And here’s a small tip for any ladies who encounter a man in traditional costume – if he has red ribbons on his hat, he’s still up for grabs! But beware if he has green ribbons on his hat – this means there’s a wife lurking nearby!
The people of Sarntal and their distinctive dialect
The most remarkable thing about Sarntal is the people of Sarntal themselves. They’re a world unto themselves – completely unique and inimitable. They are known far and wide for their humour and ready wit. There are hundreds of Sarntal jokes, all of which portray the locals in a rosy light. Centuries ago, in 1600, Marx Sittich von Wolkenstein wrote: “Es ist das lustigist gericht und das schonest, so in land ist.” (They are the funniest and best people in the country.) Much has been written on the character of the Sarntal locals. By nature rugged and aloof, they are reluctant to embrace anything new; but they are always ready to lend a hand, and are extremely hospitable. The best thing about the people of Sarntal, however, is their love for their homeland. This also explains their love of tradition and the care they take to preserve their traditional costume and customs. The Sarntal dialect also has a special place amongst the dialects in South Tyrol. When you listen to the people of Sarntal, you immediately pick up on the quirky old sentence structures and their melodious speech, with many words ending with “a” or “ar” sound. The people of Sarntal are also known for using flowery and vividly descriptive language.
Rohrerhaus Farmer Museum
The Rohrerhaus in Sarnthein is an old farmhouse that has been converted into a museum, with an old smokehouse and bread-baking ovens. The Rohrerhaus is built simply yet spaciously, to serve a purpose, without embellishments and yet with a plain, quiet style.