CULTURE: GENERAL INFORMATION
Located in the middle of an important European route, according to ehealthfacts, Liechtenstein has been exposed to disparate cultural influences over the centuries. There are many roots in which its identity sinks: the main one is undoubtedly the Christian one, whose presence in the region dates back to the sixth century. Due to its modest size, the principality has never been an autonomous artistic-cultural area and its development in this area is the result of an incessant activity of exchanges and relations with neighboring cultures. In this perspective, the customs treaties and the accession of the principality to NATO must be evaluated, to the EFTA and the SEE, motivated not only by the need to establish profitable economic and commercial relations but also by the desire to cooperate at an international level in the field of research and cultural development. The contribution of the government which finances various cultural projects and initiatives is significant, adequately supported by the activity of the Historical Society of the Principality of Liechtenstein which plays an important role in research and protection of the country’s culture. The official language is German, but most of the population uses a dialect variant, Alemannic.
Although most of the principality’s traditions do not have indigenous origins, a heritage of customs and beliefs is still alive among the population that has its roots in ancient pagan legends, in religion and in everyday life itself. Particularly felt, in a country with a Catholic majority, are religious holidays. In addition to the traditional celebrations of Christmas, Easter and All Saints, the feast of St. Nicholas, the Corpus Domini processions and the feast of the Ascension are also widespread, during which the fields are blessed. Some customs of the Carnival date back to the pagan tradition, such as the Ruassla attempt to dirty each other’s faces with burnt pieces of cork or to steal the neighbor’s plate of soup. Another important tradition, probably dating back to the pre-Christian age, is the Küachle Sunday: during the first Sunday of Lent, winter is banned by burning symbolic images. The traditions linked to marriage are also interesting. A wreath of pine twigs, an auspice of luck and prosperity, is attached to the bride’s front door, decorated in white or colored paper flowers. After the ceremony, usually during the wedding dinner, the kidnapping of the bride is simulated, whose ransom (usually the restaurant bill) must be paid by anyone who has let it slip. Widespread now only in the Oberland region, in the northern area of Liechtenstein, is the tradition of the Kuhherzle (small cow hearts). As a form of thanks, after having safely managed to transfer the cattle from the Alps in the valleys, farmers usually tie small wooden plaques with carved hearts on the neck of the best dairy cows. Colorful ribbons, bouquets of artificial flowers and large cowbells complete the embellishment of the cows that the breeders proudly display in front of their farms.
The richest private art collection in existence is located in the Vaduz Castle. Established in the century. XVII by Prince Charles Eusebius in his palace in Vienna, it was transferred to Vaduz at the outbreak of the Second World War. A conspicuous core of the collection is represented by the sculptures and paintings (in particular of the Italian Renaissance and the Flemish seventeenth century) collected by Prince Joseph Wenzel of Liechtenstein during his numerous travels in Europe.