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Sunset in Austrian poppy field
Image: Sunset in Austrian poppy field

Stammtisch

What happens at a Stammtisch?

It is a table in a restaurant or a ‘Gasthaus’ (inn), which is reserved for regular customers who gather on certain days of the week to talk, play cards or hold meetings. The Stammtisch is usually at its most influential in the countryside, in villages where the Gasthaus still is the focal point of social life.


Here, typically, the Bürgermeister (Mayor), the farmer, the shopkeeper and many others will sit together frequently after church on a Sunday (known as “Frühschoppen”) and on at least one weekday evening to play cards and discuss the affairs of the village. Their table is marked with a metal sign marked “Stammtisch” – sometimes soldered on to a now-redundant ashtray – to signal the unsuspecting visitors that they should sit elsewhere. Many a tourist has made the mistake of sitting at the Stammtisch without permission.

All topics are discussed here over a glass of wine or beer, - the annual village festival is planned; this is where the problems, financial and sporting, of the local or national football teams are analysed. In Austria it is still largely a male activity though women often have their own Stammtisch. In cities, women come together in the week to play cards and chat.

The custom is not confined to Austria. Wherever there are German speakers there are informal gatherings where they can casually speak German to keep their language skills from growing rusty, and to share ideas, poetry, or literature.

The Anglo-Austrian Society has encouraged the development of the Stammtisch as a means whereby Austrians and friends of Austria can meet regularly to discuss any issues and to enjoy each others company under the umbrella of a common theme. Some of these meetings are quite formal whereas others are informal gatherings where friends meet. Indeed one or two of the Stammtisch are so large that an entire room is now required. There are many Stammtisch arrangements and further details will be found here(Link). We have also included the details of various affiliated groups, clubs and societies.

 

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