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The Tamsweg Vereinigten -United Brotherhood

Kommissär Ing. Anton Derigo

The “Vereinigte zu Tamsweg” is a brotherhood that brings together and unites all its members with the goal of doing everything to encourage and maintain mutual understanding, to fear God and to uphold the wellbeing of our town, Tamsweg.” Thus reads the statement of intent of the Vereinigten , which was founded as a brotherhood or confraternity in 1737 by three citizens of Tamsweg, the harness-maker Johann Georg Kopfmuller, the timber-frame maker Jakob Ferner and the tanner Josef Locker.

Their intention was to unite all those Tamsweg skilled tradesmen who did not belong to one of the Tamsweg craft guilds and to celebrate an annual holiday on each first Tuesday after the festival of Corpus Christi. At the same time the membership fee, the running costs and the various obligations of the members especially when there were funerals of fellow members were laid down  in detail. In general the brotherhood’s statutes and principles that are valid today derive from  1767 and from 1785 when they were renewed. From then on the annual holiday was  transferred to ‘another seemly day ‘ which is now generally in the second half of January.

Although  the original purpose of the brotherhood was of a practical and religious nature, the social side came to be  increasingly fostered as well. Nowadays the brotherhood’s ceremonies and celebrations continue for a whole week in January every year.  We can observe the old customs on the anniversary day with its solemn church service and then  when a new chairman is formally appointed in a ceremony every three years followed by a procession through the town, showing the close connection between the brotherhood’s strict rules and  various lighter-hearted activities.

Der Umzug

The brotherhood’s year begins with a meeting on New Year’s Day. Every three years there is a formal gathering to elect a  new chairman. His task is to preside over the brotherhood for the following three years and to decide on the course of events  for the coming week.
The celebrations begin with a convivial meeting on Monday evening. The actual anniversary is on Tuesday. It begins with a solemn service in church and a  meal shared by all the members of the brotherhood. Following this the members visit various houses and hostelries in the town before attending a ball in the evening. On Wednesday diverse groups of members betake themselves  through the town and entertain the public with various presentations. On Thursday they review the week. On Friday they wash out their empty wallets and purses, and so ends the brotherhood’s week.

The Tamsweg Brotherhood is the oldest one in Austria. Founded more than 250 years ago it is still annually celebrated with time-honoured rituals.