Christmas Salute

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Königshöhe, Bayerisch Gmain

Tradition has it that on Christmas Eve, the first christmas holiday, new year’s evening and new year’s day itself the self-appointed royalist mountaineering riflemen vulgo “Gebirgsschützen” fire salute rounds (“Böller”) from special ultralarge calibre pistols called “Stutzen”. As so many traditions this one too most probably has its origins in pagan times, when the ghosts had to be banished with noise. And nowadays of course, men always find a reason to play with guns, even if it’s only salute ones.


  1. Just before looking at this posting I read a news item about American gun owners, shown on a map so that you can check who owns a gun in your neighborhood. That is surely a relaxing thing to look into during the holidays…

    This posting was a bit of a shock. I guess salute rounds are such that they disintegrate on firing or contain only gunpowder? I remember seeing on tv how in some parts of the world people fire assault rifles in weddings etc. – I wouldn’t like to be too near this kind of celebration (a couple of kilometers might be safe distance, hmm…).

    1. Juha, even more disturbing I found Slate’s piece about the number of killed-by-gunshot people in the U.S. since Newtown. Not so relaxing…

      The salute pistols here use cork caps to keep the powder inside – beforehand fir wood was used, but that proved to be too dangerous. Still, loads of 13-20g gunpowder create *tremendous* noise!

  2. Love the “Christmas Salute” photos. They look like they are having a wonderful time saluting Christmas with unique, beautiful black powder weapons. Never seen any “pistol” (or are they hand cannons?) this large fired, and can imagine it is a loud report. Looks well organized and completely safe. No need to fret about the American murder rate here. It is a sad, and unrelated subject while your photos are all about joy.

    1. Jeff, these are indeed more like hand cannons than pistols, and are of tremendous weight – quite impossible to hold them horizontally except for extremely trained people. And quite a number of my images were blurred – I blame it on the shock waves, not my shaky hands

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