The Christmas tree plays a very important role, and every town sets up its own Christmas tree. A traditional tree is decorated with gold and silver ornaments, stars made out of straw, sweets, and candy wrapped in tinfoil, gilded nuts, decorated ginger bread cookies etc.
On Christmas Eve, shops close at around 6 p.m. and there are no movie or theatre performances and no concerts. Most bars, restaurants, and night clubs are closed and traffic is almost non-existent. There are, however, some coffeehouses, bars, and restaurants that are open in Vienna.
Around 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve, the tree is lit for the first time and the whole family gathers to sing Christmas carols. “Silent Night”, written and performed for the first time on 24 December 1818 by Josef Mohr and Franz Gruber in the Austrian village of Oberndorf, is still the favourite Christmas carol.