Its like a way of bringing in the new year. I know Lichtenstein, Switzerland celebrate it. I’m not sure about Austria or Germany but for sure we do. Basically around New Years, after Christmas time, you put your dead Christmas trees on the curb and the boy scouts will come pick them up… Every town has there own one. And the boy scouts take the trees and build enormous towers out of them… They are sometimes as tall as a five story or four story building. It depends on how many they get. They stack em all up and as a tradition of the new year, the burn it. At the very top is a witch figure. It’s like a puppet or a doll and they stuff it with fireworks. When the fire reaches the top, the witch figure explodes because of the fireworks. It’s a big deal the whole town comes out. You can get this food called Funkaküachli, which is basically funka cakes and you can get bratwurst and sausages and rolls and hot chocolate and different teas. It’s cold out in a big open field. If the tower falls down, that means you’re gonna have a long winter but if it stays standing, spring is near by. It’s like a closing ceremony for winter where you bring in the new year starting with spring.
This is basically a foreign version of Groundhog Day. It’s literally celebrated for the same purpose, just with different determining factors. It’s interesting how much pomp and circumstance goes into this where as in America, there isn’t really a ton of hype around Groundhog Day unless it’s in Pennsylvania with Punxsutawney Phil.