“Gegen jede Art von Schmerz hilft ein Gmundner Liebstattherz” - “A gingerbread heart from Gmunden helps against every kind of pain”
This is the promise the town of Gmunden promotes every year during the Liebstattsonntag celebrations.
Liebstattsonntag takes place on the fourth Sunday during Lent. On this day, every bakery in Gmunden bakes thousands of gingerbread hearts and decorates them with swans, romantic sayings and pretty flowers, all made of sugar. These are then sold to people strolling through the market in the main square.
In many of Gmunden’s households you can find these hearts decorating the walls – the crumbling of the icing a testament to how long the owner´s of the house have already been in love.
Legend has it that Liebstattsonntag began sometime in 1641 when Bishop Leopold Wilhelm von Österreich (what a name!) founded the “Corpus Cristi Brotherhood”. This “club” chose the fourth Sunday during Lent as the day for their annual general assembly. They started their meeting with prayers and feasting. As a sign of brotherly love, they also invited Gmunden’s poor to share their food and they ate together with them. Out of this tradition Liebstattsonntag was born.
However, throughout the centuries the custom began to change and the soup kitchens for the poor made way for a kind of marriage market. Starting in 1856, young men and women would put on their finest suits and dresses, meet at main square and get together for a nice pint of mead – Tinder of the analogue age if you want. That was the day to start, confirm or break up a relationship, but there was no sign of the famous gingerbread hearts yet; they showed up round about 1930.
In 1963 Gmunden’s tourism board noticed that more and more visitors came to celebrate Liebstattsonntag and so they decided to promote the market big time. Today there is no marriage market anymore; you just put on your finest Dirndl or Lederhosen (some things never change) and take your better half to Gmunden’s old town where you can buy sweets and gingerbread hearts while enjoying the first signs of spring.
This year’s Liebstattsonntag takes place on the 31st of March.
29 March 2019