Intangible Cultural Heritage in Austria

Carrying out the Freiung at the annual "Maxlaun" market in Niederwölz

Applicant: Mag. Alfred Baltzer und Ing. Rudolf Paschek für den Arbeitskreis Volkskultur Murau
Province: Styria
Domain: Social Practices
Year of inclusion: 2013

The procession of the "Maxlaun" market revolves around the “Freiung”, symbol of the market privilege. The three-day market is held annually at Niederwölz in the district of Murau on the second weekend of October. Its name is derived from Maximilian, the church patron venerated on 12 October. In his honour citizens organise a parade to carry the “Freiung”, a festively decorated arm carved out of wood, painted black and holding a sword, to the market square along a traditional route. It symbolised the freedom of the market, unrestricted trading rights and public peace through a ban on carrying arms. Nowadays, the mayor chooses the bearer of the symbol who in turn appoints a person charged with ensuring passage through the crowd. The procession is accompanied by the local band and choir, the fire brigade and the men of the mountain rescue service.