Well, itís hair raising but I thought people here might find it interesting.
The local custom in the villages is for men to ride around the village and sing Christmas ďcarolsĒ on Christmas morning. As you can see, itís pandemonium. Horses (mainly Lipizzaners) spend more time going sideways than forward. They start off as a small group and pick up their friends along the way.
The idea is to make as much noise as possible and visit each house to scare away the bad spirits. In return, the hosts offer the carolers food and drinks (mainly spirits) and gift them towels. The towels used to be hand made and embroidered, these days they are usually store bought. The towels are hung on the horse tack so by the end of it they are practically covered in them. You can see a small boy on a mini which can barely move for the towels.
Even if a horse is well behaved, itís a matter of pride to ride a hot horse so you see some of them agitating the calmer horses.
Apparently, the custom comes from young men coming home for Christmas from the Hapsburg cavalry. I believe it was a perk of the job to take the fancy horse home with you, but you couldnít take the saddle because it was too expensive. You still see some of them riding bareback or on woolen military blankets, as per the old ways.
The men riding donít spend a lot of time in the saddle during the rest of the year. These horses are usually driven for fancy occasions, like weddings and village fairs. These horses arenít typically work horses because Lipizzaners are generally too hot for proper work in the fields. So basically, these men are also showing off their wealth because they can afford a ďparadeĒ horse (usually a pair) which doesnít earn its keep.
An acquaintance of mine has a riding school in one of the villages which is mainly attended by girls. She will drive a large carriage behind the main group, also using Lipizzaners, and a bunch of girls with her. As the carolers get too drunk to ride, one of the girls takes over and the guy is thrown on a pile in the carriage. By the end of it, itís mostly girls riding, men entangled in a heap on the cart.
Most people on the forum will have their mind boggled at the total lack of regard for safety. Not a single hat to be seen and at one point there is a very small child with one of the men (bareback) in the fray. General population, including children, is milling about in between the horses. Carolers are all quite drunk. However, Iíve never heard of anybody getting hurt so I guess that they know what they are doing.
If anyone knows of similar customs, please share.