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Did you know? Stories about “Silent Night”

Most people love stories. But the most interest surfaces when it’s a true story about real people who actually experienced everything.

The tales and legends surrounding the most famous Christmas carol in the world – Silent Night, Holy Night – certainly check all the boxes when it comes to myths, suspense and reality. Learn about some anecdotes and a few other interesting facts that really happened 200 years ago…..

Personal information about Joseph Mohr: Did you know that……

  • …… when he died, Joseph Mohr’s sole possession was a guitar?

    Mohr was a humble man. He gave away all his property to the poor.



  • …… Joseph Mohr kept coming into conflict with the authorities when he was an assistant priest and vicar?

    His main goal in life was to help others. However, in doing so, he sometimes stepped out of line.

  • ….. Joseph Mohr’s godfather was Salzburg’s last official executioner?
    Trying to improve his bad reputation, the hangman signed up with the church to act as godfather to illegitimate children.
  • ..the lyrics to the song were already written as a poem in 1816 by Joseph Mohr in Mariapfarr?
    For a long time it was believed that the text had been composed for the Christmas Eve mass in Oberndorf.


  • Grave of Joseph Mohr in Hallein © SalzburgerLand Tourismus / Kathrin Gollackner Grave of Joseph Mohr in Hallein © SalzburgerLand Tourismus / Kathrin Gollackner

Did you know that……..

……. the period in which the song was composed was one of pure hardship and war?
By Christmas 1818, Europe had already been in a crisis for decades. Political changes, war and hunger had drained the people of the Prince-Archbishopric of Salzburg, the Habsburg Monarchy and Bavaria. Napoleon had waged wars and devastated entire regions. The Congress of Vienna lasted from 1814 to 1815 and sealed the end of the Napoleonic era.

…. Joseph Mohr and Franz Xaver Gruber only knew each other very briefly?
In 1817 Joseph Mohr came to Oberndorf as an assistant priest. He became friends with Franz Xaver Gruber who was 5 years older and a teacher from the neighbouring village of Arnsdorf. The following Christmas, Mohr asked his friend to compose a suitable melody for the poem he had already written in 1816 in Mariapfarr. After the Christmas mass in 1818 ended, the song “Silent Night, Holy Night” was performed for the very first time.

…… “Silent Night, Holy Night” was even sung in the trenches of World War I?
Right after the beginning of the war in 1914, an amazing spectacle took place in the form of a temporary Christmas truce signifying the brotherhood of different nations. As a sign of peace on 24 December, soldiers placed illuminated Christmas trees on the upper edges of the trenches. Fighters then laid down their weapons and sang “Silent Night, Holy Night” on both sides of the front in Flanders.

……“Silent Night, Holy Night” became a successful hit very early on in America?
The song holds the record for the top-selling sheet music in the USA – and that already back in the mid 19thcentury. Since its very first vinyl recording by the American “Haydn Quartet” in October 1995, it is by far the best-selling Christmas carol in the world. Alone Bing Crosby’s recording from 1935 reached an estimated 10 million by 2003.
  • Spurensuche zu Fuss © Franz Xaver Gruber Gemeinschaft  / Franz Xaver Gruber Gemeinschaft Spurensuche zu Fuss © Franz Xaver Gruber Gemeinschaft / Franz Xaver Gruber Gemeinschaft

Personal information about Franz Xaver Gruber - Did you know that……

  • …. Franz Xaver Gruber was married three times?
    In order to keep his teacher position in Arnsdorf, Gruber married the widow of his predecessor. After she died in 1826, he married the young lady Maria Breitfuss with whom he had ten children. His third marriage was to the widow of a shoemaker.
  • …. Franz Xaver Gruber testified in writing to owning the copyrights whilst he was still alive?
    In 1854 Gruber cleared up the misconception that Michael Haydn was thought to be the composer by writing an "Authentic Account".
  • ….. Franz Xaver Gruber was a linen weaver by profession?
    He was forced to practice the trade by taking over the cottage industry from his parents. The weaving loom is on display in Hochburg-Ach.

Packages and tours 2018 featuring Silent Night

Christmas decorations © Österreich Werbung / Lisa EiersebnerChristmas decorations © Österreich Werbung / Lisa Eiersebner

Feel the true spirit of “Silent Night, Holy Night” in very many different ways in 13 Silent Night localities. Museums and exhibitions are open all year round.

Tours and round trips

4-day tour through Salzburg

2-day tour through Zillertal

3-day tour Innviertel-Steyr

Round trip through the Silent Night provinces


Did you know? Stories about “Silent Night”

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The main purpose of the two main domains and is the promotion of Austria as a holiday destination.