A custom, very typical of South Tyrol, which has been passed down for many generations, is incense burning. A ritual that used to be performed on 12 Rauhnächte. Today, the smoking ritual usually takes place on the eve of Epiphany. In many families, this tradition is simply part of the annual routine. One expels the evil from house and yard and cleans the air. For this purpose the whole family comes together. If one member is missing, this was considered a bad omen, at least in earlier times.
How does the smoking work?
For traditional smoking you need embers from the wood stove and also consecrated incense. The embers are placed in an incense bowl, similar to a style pan, and the incense is placed on top. The head of the family then carries the incense bowl, another family member carries holy water and a small branch to sprinkle. Beginning in the kitchen, all the living rooms are then prayerfully visited. On the farm, of course, the barn and in the stable are also fumigated.
Smoke with healing effect
In some places, after smoking, all the family members gathered around the incense bowl and held their heads in the smoke. This was supposed to spare them from sore throats and other illnesses in the new year. At the same time, everyone held their hats and headscarves as high as they could, as a sign of how high the rye would grow in the coming harvest year.
Even today, after smoking, people usually gather in the kitchen and sit there comfortably with a cup of warm tea and pastries.