Germany: Holidays                                                    

January 1                             

New Year’s Day

January 6                             

Epiphany commemorates the visit of the Wise Men to the Christ child in Bethlehem

March or April                   

Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday

May 1                                   

Labor Day

Variable                               

Ascension Day, Whitsunday and Pentecost Monday

Variable                               

Feast of Corpus Christi (southern Germany only) honors the presence of Christ in the sacrament of Holy Communion

October 3                            

German Unity Day

November 1                       

All Saints’ Day

Variable                               

Day of Prayer and Repentance

December 24-26               

Christmas Holidays

 

Festivals and Celebrations

  • Many festivals and celebrations in Germany date back to medieval times.

 

  • On St. Martin’s Day, November 11th, children parade through the streets with paper lanterns. November 11th, at 11:11 AM sharp marks the official start of the Carnival season. Cologne and Mainz are two cities that are famous for lavish fasching (carnival parties)—particularly during the week before Ash Wednesday. There are street parties, costume competitions and street parades—most of them on Rosenmontag (Rose Monday).

  • Halloween, a U.S. American tradition, celebrated on October 31st, has become increasingly popular—mostly in urban areas. After dark, children of all ages dress-up in costumes and go from door-to-door saying, “trick or treat,” asking residents for candies (or else they will play a trick on them).

 

  • On November 1st, in the southern regions, Catholic saints are honored on Allerheiligen (All Saints Day).

  •  On December 6th, Sankt Nikolaus (St. Nicholas) arrives with small presents for young children who put their shoes by the fireplace or windowsill hoping to find them filled with goodies the next morning. Saint Nicholas’ Day honors the saint for helping poor people.

 

  • The main Christmas celebration is on December 24th, Heilig Abend (Christmas Eve), when families gather around a decorated tree and exchange presents. Even though popular throughout the world, Christmas tree decoration is a custom that originated in Germany.

 

  • On Ostern (Easter Sunday), children search their yards for hidden Easter eggs.

 

  • Besides religious holidays, Germans have festivals for horses, armored knights, flowers, beer, music and even sausages.

 

  • Munich’s Oktoberfest is a famous German festival. People eat, drink beer, and dance. The festival lasts 16 days, and, despite its name, starts in September.