In 865, Pope Gregory IV proclaimed 1 November as All Saints' Day.
In the days leading up to 1 November, the cemeteries are bustling with activity: the graves are prepared for the upcoming commemoration and made winter-proof. During this time, the cemetery caretaker also has a lot more to do.
Cemetery caretaker - A dream job
When Sigi Haidegger, a learned baker and passionate ice hockey player, started his career in the municipality of Kitzbühel as a cemetery caretaker and gravedigger in 1994, he did not realise that he had found his dream job.
I enjoy my work with the locals
An earth grave is dug two metres deep. In the first five years, Sigi still had to dig the graves by hand. After that, he tells us, he was given a small excavator. Today, however, this excavator is no longer used so often. While at the beginning of his career there were 70 to 80 burials per year, today there are only 20 of this kind. For the remaining burials, the decision is usually made in favour of urn graves. When digging existing graves from the 1970s and 1980s, Siggi has to take special care not to damage the existing coffin. This is because the bodies were buried in plastic bags back then, which were not supposed to burst open under any circumstances.
With currently around 3,000 graves, emptying the rubbish bins is one of the most important tasks of the cemetery caretaker - of course separated between organic waste and residual waste. Around All Saints' Day, the bins are emptied up to 3 times a day.
For Sigi, it is important that the cemetery looks tidy at all times of the year. He regularly collects the leaves, clears the snow from the main paths and stairs in winter and fills in the gravel between the graves in spring. The Kitzbühel municipal building yard trims the hedges several times a year.
The beautiful view and the silence that reigns at the cemetery most days are priceless for Sigi.
On 1 November evening, the cemetery is beautiful, with grave lights shining everywhere and the graves looking beautiful, says Sigi.
It can happen that I have to help out with a garden shovel or wheelbarrow - but that's what I'm here for.
Hike through the Kitzbühel cemetery
The cemetery with the Liebfrauenkirche (Church of Our Lady), the parish church of St. Andrew and the Chapel of the Mount of Olives is also an attraction for guests.
When walking through the cemetery, you can always be asked about a particular grave, Sigi says.
There are many celebrities in the Kitzbühel cemetery. You pass the graves of the skiing wonder team Toni Sailer, Christian Pravda and Fritz Huber. Colourful Tibet flags are always flying at the grave of Tibet researcher Peter Aufschnaiter. Meinhard Schwarzenegger's grave is visited by his brother Arnold Schwarzenegger every time he comes to Kitzbühel.
There are currently 20 graves of honour in the Kitzbühel cemetery. These final resting places are maintained by the Kitzbühel gardeners, the other graves are the responsibility of the respective relatives.
Almost like Leonardo da Vinici
Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man is a symbol of Renaissance aesthetics and one of the most famous pictorial motifs in history. The drawing of the Vitruvian Man was made at the end of the 15th century, but the concept of the drawing came from the Roman architect and engineer Vitruvius. Vitruvius' geometric descriptions of the human body aroused the interest of Leonardo da Vinci, who studied human anatomy in great detail. The Vitruvian Man is one of the most reproduced pictorial motifs. 2 May 2019 marked the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci's death. To mark the occasion, the Austrian artist Mathias Kniepeiss created the artwork weRone, which caused a sensation worldwide. Sigi Haidegger was the face of the artwork.
The picture shows all skin colours, male, female, old, young, the religions and it says that the human being is only one, no matter what skin colour, what religion.
From passionate ice hockey player to passionate screwdriver
The passionate ice hockey player Sigi is still remembered by many Kitzbühelers with his often tougher style of play.
Ice hockey was my life - says Sigi
Sigi spent countless hours at the Lebenberg skating rink, trained with the first team and was the coach for the youngsters. He was not a professional, he said, but rather a semi-professional, since he always went to work on the side. In his career, the former player has accumulated a total of 1,2358 penalty minutes. In the meantime, his hobby has become a lot quieter. Today, Sigi's passion is wrenching on his two Jeeps built in 1974 and 1978. Together with his best buddies, the cemetery caretaker spends his free time in the garage wrenching on the classic cars. He is visibly proud of his red Jeep.
#LocalHeroes aus Kitzbühel
#LocalHeroes from Kitzbühel
It is the people who make Kitzbühel and its holiday villages Reith, Aurach and Jochberg this special. These are exactly the personalities we are talking about in our "LocalHeroes" series, in which the true heroes of our region are put in the spotlight. They would never call themselves heroes, but they are: Because it is only due to their passion for what they do that we can all experience the unique Kitzbühel attitude to life.