Did you know that …
––the inspiration for the Austrian flag comes from Duke Leopold V (1157-1194)? Legend has it that during one of the Crusades Leopold removed his belt, which revealed a white stripe in the middle of his blood-soaked tunic. In 1230 Duke Friedrich II adopted this pattern of red-white-red (rot-weiss-rot) as national flag.
––the Austrian Coat of Arms was modified after WWII? The main changes included replacing the imperial double-headed eagle with a single-headed one, adding a sickle and a hammer into its claws to represent the unity of the ruling and the working classes, and depicting a broken chain at its feet to symbolize liberation from Nazism.
––the song “Silent Night” was first sung on Christmas Eve in 1818 in Oberndorf, Austria? The priest Joseph Mohr wrote the lyrics and the school teacher Franz Gruber created the melody to a song known in original as “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht.” The pleasant beauty of the words and the melody compelled people to translate the song into many other languages.
––the Habsburg royal dynasty, which ruled the Austrian-Hungarian Empire from 1278 until 1918, established relations all over Europe? The Habsburgs judicious rule helped the Empire grow mainly by the means of marital acquisitions. As the Empire expanded, the Habsburgs formed close ties in Bohemia, Croatia, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Italy, Ukraine, Netherlands, Spain, and France. At one time, the Habsburg influence reached even North America when Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian became Emperor of Mexico from 1864 to 1867.
––the tradition of brewing fine coffee in Vienna dates back to 1683? That year the Turkish armies besieging Vienna were turned to flight and left behind a stock of coffee. Franz Georg Kolschitzky used this stock to open the first central-European ‘Cafe House’. He served his refined beverage sweetened, without the grounds, and with milk––thus, Viennese coffee culture war born.
––The Sound of Music, a famous musical starring Julie Andrews, was based on a true story? Two German movies were made, based on Maria von Trapp’s book The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, before Hollywood made the musical in 1965. In real life, Von Trapps eventually moved from Switzerland to Vermont, where Maria and Captain von Trapp’s descendants live to this day.
Arnold Schwarzenegger (b. 1947), Governor of California, actor, director, athlete
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), composer
Billy Wilder (1906-2002), movie director (Some Like It Hot)
Gustav Klimt (1862-1918), painter
Johann Strauss, a.k.a. “King of Waltz” (1825-1899), composer (“The Blue Danube”)
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), founder of psychoanalysis
Lippizaner Stallions (est. 1580), world-famous breed of show horses