September is not only a month of markets and festivals, but also of the return from the mountain pastures. Thanksgiving also begins, while continuing in October.
In the afternoon of the Sunday following the first of September (Ägidi-St.Giles’s Day) a fair, the “Wiesenmarkt mit Freyungaustragen”, is held at Bleiburg (Carinthia). The Freyung is a tall decorated pole to which a shield depicting a sword is attached, and it is displayed at the market to demonstrate the oversight exercised by Duke Albrecht of Austria, who granted permission for the market on March 16th 1393.
The same symbol plays a role at another “Wiesenmarkt”, this one held around the 29th of September (Michaeli) at St. Veit an der Clan (Carinthia). It is the largest local fair in Carinthia and one of the most important cattle-markets in Austria.
On the Monday and Tuesday following the first of September, Graz, the capital of the province of Styria, is the scene of the third “Fetzenmarkt” (rag-fair) of the year, called “Ägidimarkt”.
The third Sunday in September is the date of the “Rosalienkirtag” (Rosalia kermis) on the Hemmaberg (Carinthia). The veneration of the Saint in the grotto beneath the church has been certified since 1669. The water of the “Rosalienquelle” (Rosalia fountain) is said to be good for eye diseases, a healing power often ascribed to holy sources in the vicinity of places of worship.
The same Sunday is called “Kroatensonntag” (Croats’ Sunday) at the pilgrimage place of Maria Loretto (Burgenland), an important date for the Croatian minority of the Burgenland which is concentrated mainly in the villages of Siegendorf, Hornstein and Stinatz. The choice of this particular Sunday is due, in both cases, to the high veneration St. Rosalia enjoys among the Slavs (the Hemmaberg is situated in a part of Carinthia with a mixed Slovenian and German speaking population).
Relatively close to this date, which is important for ethnic minorities, the Church has proclaimed the last Sunday in September “Ausländersonntag” (Foreigners’ Sunday) in order to promote mutual understanding between different cultures.
In the Vienna City Hall, a “Tag der offenen Tür” (open day) has been organized on the third Saturday of September since 1966 to make citizens and guests of the city acquainted with the urban institutions, and to help surmount the barriers between citizens and the city administration.
From the middle of September well into October, a significant number of customs relate to the rural working-year, as for example “Almabtrieb” or “Alpabfahrt” (return of the cattle from the mountain pastures) or “Erntedank” (thanksgiving).
The “Alpabfahrt”, with adorned cattle and musical accompaniment takes place on September 14th at Egg and Hohenems (Vorarlberg), and on the following day (September 15th) at Schwarzenberg (Vorarlberg), where a cattlemarket is held. In Vorarlberg (in contrast to the other Austrian provinces) only male workers have traditionally been employed as cow-herds in the mountain pastures, because the huge Swiss cheeses would have been too heavy for women.
On the fourth Sunday in September, a thanksgiving procession carrying a remarkable harvest crown and several statues moves through the pilgrimage place of Maria Luggau (Carinthia).
In Eben (Tyrol) a procession in honour of Notburga takes place on the Sunday following September 14th. Notburga is not a canonized Saint. Nevertheless, her local veneration has been recognized by the church since 1862. She worked as a maid on a farm, so she is always depicted in working clothes, bearing a sickle in her hand. She is mostly venerated by farm-hands, especially by the women, whereas the male workers as well as the farmers consider St. Isidore as their patron - a special procession on the first Sunday in July is devoted to him at Untermieming (Tyrol).