Saint Barbara

Saint Barbara is the patron saint of milliners, whitewashers, brush makers, furriers, leather workers, weavers, clothiers, roofers, artillery and, last but not least, miners.

The Prophet Daniel, Archangel Raphael, St. Anthony of Padua as well as St. Benedictus of Nursia and St. Joachim are the less common protectors of the miners. Barbara only lived to be 29 years old and this number can still be seen today on the black miners' smocks, which have 29 gold buttons on their front.

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Barbara celebrations

Customs, the traditions associated with them and the pride of the miners have determined the life of the region around the Styrian Erzberg for centuries and today give it its unmistakable origin and identity. Above all, the Barbarabrauchtum is one of the highlights of the customs of the year. It is an important event for miners, as the veneration of Saint Barbara - the patron saint of the miners - plays an important role in their working and living environment.

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The miner's greeting

"Glück Auf!" - this is the miners' greeting that is still used in our mine. It is supposed to be a shortening of this phrase:

I wish you luck, open up a new gallery.

This greeting is said to have originated in the Saxon Erzgebirge between the 16th and 17th centuries and describes the miner's hope that new ore veins will open up. In addition, the greeting is supposed to be an expression of the wish that the miners will leave the mine in good health after they finished work.

In the schools of Eisenerz, the pupils still greet the teaching staff with "Glück Auf!" 

Miners' uniforms

Not only - but especially - on the name day of the patron saint of the miners, Saint Barbara, on  December 4th, traditional miners' smocks or miners' costumes are worn by miners. There are different miners' uniforms.

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The Mettenschicht

The Mettenschicht has a long tradition in Eisenerz. The Mettenschicht was originally the last shift before Christmas, before the comrades could escape from the dangers of the underground tunnels for a certain short time. Today, this last shift is still celebrated, even though there has been no underground mining for several decades.

The Mettenschicht in Eisenerz has existed in its present form since 1984, when mining councillor Anton Manfreda revived this custom. Since 1984, the organisation of the Mettenschicht has been entrusted to the Montanhistorische Verein Österreich (MHVÖ) - Innerberg working group - and the Miners' Association Eisenerz-Radmer-Vordernberg. With the miners' old team train, the Katl, people go into the Franz Stollen and go to the Barbaranische, where a holy mass with music and singing is held.

You can find further information on mining customs on  the website of the Styrian Iron Road Association.