THE 104 RESIDENTS of the Austrian village of Fucking are to vote on changing the village’s name later this week, adopting an older spelling in a bid to escape international ridicule.
The villagers – known as Fuckingers – are to consider whether the settlement should have the spelling of its name changed to ‘Fuging’, reflecting the way the town was named until the middle of the 16th century.
The Daily Telegraph summarises how the northern Austrian village, about 20 miles north of Salzburg and close to the border with Germany, had enjoyed obscurity until it was discovered by US servicemen at the end of World War 2.
Amused at the village’s name – and the obvious double entendre involved – they shared news of the town and prompted a wave of tourism that hasn’t stopped since.
Some in the village (and elsewhere) have capitalised – with a German brewery being given permission to sell a light lager legitimately called ‘Fucking Hell’ (hell being German for ‘light’ or ‘bright’).
There is also a decent trade for Fucking postcards, and there used to be an online shop which sold T-shirts bearing the slogan, “I like Fucking in Austria” – but the joke has now worn thin for locals.
“The Germans all want to see Mozart’s house in Salzburg,” a tour guide told the Daily Mirror in 2005.
The Americans want to see where The Sound Of Music was filmed. The Japanese want Hitler’s birthplace in Braunau. But for the British, it’s all about Fucking.
Although tourism does bring its perks, there are other more practical difficulties – like the fact that the town’s four signs, each simply bearing the word ‘Fucking’ and costing €250 to replace, were regularly stolen by anglophone visitors.
In 2005 the village invested in newly-reinforced concrete signs in order to stop thieves from nabbing them.
It’s possible, however, that this week’s vote may see the Fuckingers opt to keep the name: a similar vote was held in 2004 when villagers decided instead to hang onto the historical name, derived from a Bavarian nobleman Focko who lived 1500 years ago.
As a local police chief observed when the signs were replaced in 2005: “It may be very amusing for you British, but Fucking is simply Fucking to us. What is this big Fucking joke?”