This tradition also flourishes in the Zwiesel area – the main location is the neighbouring village of Rinchnach, where on 9th and 10th November every year hundreds of people take part in a unique spectacle.
Wolfsaulassen has its origin in the habit of herdsmen who moved each Spring to the forest meadows with their animals. The cows had bells round their necks to keep away bears and wolves from the meadows with their ringing. From time to time, the herdsman would give a blast on his “Goaßl“ (animal pipe) to scare off wild animals. When the animals were brought back in autumn it was the turn of the boys and farmers to ring the bells themselves, to show their pleasure at the animal being back.
Strictly speaking, Rauhnächte are those winter nights when smoking was done in earlier times. Since then, it has also come to mean the 12 nights between 24th December and Twelfth Night. This period is a transition time, hence the neologism “between the years”. In the old traditions many spirits, witches and goblins were active at this time and people lived in fear of them. To appease the wild behaviour of bad spirits and to avert bad things one had to behave well, participate in various rituals and above all attempt to frighten off the evil creatures with lots of noise. A widely practised custom in Bavaria developed from these old traditions. Witches and other creatures pass through streets and lanes in many areas, wearing hideous masks. Today it is of course mainly about satisfying the many spectators which are no longer frightened by the saying “today is rauhnacht” but see it as an excuse to take part in a winter spectacle.