St. Leopold's Day

National Holidays in Austria Regional Holiday in Vienna, Austria

Leopold III. der Heilige vor Klosterneuburg, Babenberger Stammbaum, um 1490, Stift Klosterneuburg

This day is a public holiday in Vienna in Austria and is always celebrated on 15 November.

It commemorates the death of Leopold III, the Margrave (Prince) of Austria on 15 November 1136.

Leopold is remembered as the founder of several monasteries and a key figure in the development and growth of key cities such as Krems, Klosterneuburg and Vienna.

As a result of his efforts to establish monasteries in previously uninhabited regions in Austria, he was canonised by Pope Innocent VII in 1485, and 15 November was established as his feast day in the German liturgical calendar.

In 1663, he was declared patron saint of Austria by under the rule of his namesake Emperor Leopold I.

He is buried in the abbey he established in Klosterneuburg. His skull is kept in an embroidered reliquary, which leaves his forehead exposed.

Since 1813 his feast day has been observed in the abbey with the ceremony known as Fasselrutschen ('the Slide of the Great Cask') which takes place in the wine cellar. Participants climb a narrow staircase that leads to the top of an enormous cask which was made in 1704 and holds 56,000 litres of wine. They then slide down its smooth side to a soft mat at its base. According to tradition, the faster the trip down, the better luck the person will have in the coming year.

St. Leopold’s Day may also be known as 'Gaense Tag' (Goose Day) as the traditional evening meal served on this day is roast goose.

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