Sternsingen, traditional custom around Epiphany (Epiphania Domini, January 6th , formerly the beginning of the Year), emerged from the traditional New Year Singing of the monastic schools. First documented mention around the middle of the 15th century in the foothills of the Alps of Salzburg and Bavaria. After the Second World War, Sternsingen ("Star Singing") became very popular in the course of the "Dreikönigsaktion" (Catholic charity collection at Epiphany) in Catholic areas, carried out by the Katholische Jungschar (Catholic Children´s Organisation) and in which children dressed up as the three Magi collect money for charitable purposes. There are special forms outside those organised by the church and related to charity, such as in Oberndorf (Salzburg, reintroduced according to older models) and Heiligenblut am Großglockner (Carinthia). There, groups of men who are not in disguise but carry an elaborately painted star visit farmhouses, accompanied by musicians.
Literature: H. Moser, Volksbräuche im geschichtlichen Wandel, 1985; G. Kapfhammer, Brauchtum in den Alpenländern, 1977; H. M. Wolf, Das Brauch-Buch, 1992.
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