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A Christmas carol heard round the world

7. November 2017

“Silent night! Holy night!” is a call for peace that is understood the world over. The song is also a resounding export success, a little piece of UNESCO World Heritage, and a key asset for the Austrian tourism industry.

“Silent night! Holy night!” is one of the world’s most recognisable and popular Christmas carols. Since its first rendition in Oberndorf, near Salzburg, in 1818, its unique Christmas message has rung out throughout the world, bringing a hope of peace to all mankind. To celebrate its upcoming 200th anniversary, Austria has been showcasing the story of the carol’s creation and how it has spread – there are now versions in more than 300 languages and dialects, touching people across many different cultures and traditions.

More information about Silent Night activities and events organised by Austrian tourist service providers for 2017 and the anniversary year 2018 is available at . From November 2017, music fans will be able to book short breaks to visit such attractions as the newly reopened museum, atmospheric Christmas markets in the Austrian states of Salzburg, Tyrol and Upper Austria, or even explore the story of how the carol came to be written.

The people to thank for the carol’s creation are an Upper Austrian teacher (Franz Xaver Gruber) and a Salzburg priest (Joseph Mohr), and the first performance was in two-part harmony with a guitar accompaniment. The carol has since been sung and interpreted by a whole galaxy of stars. Although “Silent Night! Holy Night” did not become well-known in its home state of Salzburg until 1866, it had already found fame in Europe and the USA thanks to travelling singers. Its status as a global song for peace was underlined in 2011, when UNESCO inscribed it on its national list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.