Planning to visit Germany in 2019? Get the most out of your experience! Learn here about the most important holidays in Germany - fast and easy with GermanPod101!
|January 6, 2019||Epiphany|
|March 4, 2019||Carnival Season|
|April 19, 2019||Good Friday|
|April 30, 2019||Walpurgis Night|
|May 30, 2019||Ascension Day|
|May 30, 2019||Father’s Day (celebrated on Ascension Day)|
|June 10, 2019||Whit Monday|
|June 20, 2019||Corpus Christi|
|August 8, 2019||Peace Festival|
|August 15, 2019||Assumption Day|
|September 21, 2019||Oktoberfest|
|October 3, 2019||German Unity Day|
|October 6, 2019||Harvest Festival|
|October 31, 2019||Reformation Day|
|November 1, 2019||All Saints’ Day|
|November 9, 2019||The fall of the Berlin Wall|
|November 20, 2019||Day of Prayer and Repentance|
|November 24, 2019||Sunday of the Dead|
|December 1, 2019||First Sunday of Advent|
According to the Christian tradition, the Three Kings are remembered on this day, which is known as Epiphany (Dreikönigsfest) or Three Kings’ Day (Tag der Heiligen Drei Könige). On January 6, children dressed as the Three Kings go from door to door singing songs and collecting money for charitable purposes, then write the phrase “20 * C + M + B + 19″ on a chalkboard or on the door. The letters C, M, and B stand for Christus Mansionem Benedicat, which is Latin and means “Christ bless this house” or in German Christus segne dieses Haus. The numbers at the beginning and the end stand for the corresponding year.
The culmination of the Carnival, the Rose Monday (Rosenmontag) is a feast that takes place forty-eight days before Easter Sunday. Since the Carnival lasts several months, it’s also referred to as the fifth season of the year.
Typical carnival cookies vary by region and include Mutzenmandeln, Berliner, donuts, pancakes, fritters, or carnival Kräppel. Also, savory dishes such as potato salad, braised beef, goulash soup, or pickled herring are very famous among carnival-goers.
On the Thursday before Rose Monday, during the so-called Women’s Carnival (Weiberfastnacht) in Germany, it’s common particularly in the Cologne area for women to cut men’s ties. Sometimes, however, they make up for it with a kiss.
Ash Wednesday marks the end of Carnival and the beginning of Lent (Fastenzeit).
Good Friday is observed between March 22 and April 25 and is a public holiday, known as Gesetzlicher Feiertag in German. Jesus Christ’s story of suffering is the focus during this Holy Week, and Good Friday commemorates his crucifixion, known as Kreuzigung Jesu in German.
On this day, dancing and other leisure events are prohibited by law, which is why nightclubs are closed. Only activities that match the revenant character of the holiday are permitted.
According to an old legend, witches (Hexen) meet on Brocken Mountain and other high mountains on May 1 to dance. On this so-called Walpurgis Night (Walpurgisnacht), those who still want to celebrate the beginning of May dress up as witches to dance in the streets, creating a carnival-like atmosphere.
The Solemnity of the Catholic Church is always forty days after Easter, so between April 30 and June 3. Since the 1930s, Ascension Day has been observed as a public holiday in Germany.
Father’s Day (Vatertag) was introduced as a special day honoring fathers. It doesn’t always have the same calendar date because it falls on the 40th day of Easter and the date of Easter varies depending on the cycle of the moon.
On Father’s Day, a so-called “gentlemen’s party” or Herrentagsparty, takes place in some German regions. It could be a walk, an outing on horse-drawn carriages, or a stroll on the beach.
On Father’s Day, some families go out for family trips or go on vacation together on an extended weekend, usually referred to as verlängertes Wochenende.
Whit Monday is part of Pentecost, which is a Christian festival that occurs 49 days after Easter Sunday every year. It includes Pentecost Sunday (Pfingstsonntag), which is a public holiday in Germany, and the following day, Whit Monday (Pfingstmontag), which is a non-working day.
Essentially, Corpus Christi is the celebration and recognition of the bread and wine consumed as part of Communion turning into the actual body and blood of Christ. This is a public holiday in only some parts of Germany, and it’s common to see processions on this day.
In Bavaria, Germans recognize the Peace Festival as a celebration of Protestants regaining their freedom of faith after the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. This is a public holiday (though only in Bavaria) that Germans have off work and school, and German churches hold services on this day. In Augsburg, Bavaria, Germans hold a market as well as competitions for school-aged children, centering on the theme of peace.
A Catholic holiday celebrated in only two German states—Bavaria and Saarland—Assumption Day is the commemoration of the Virgin Mary being “assumed” to Heaven by God. On August 15, these two German states often have Mass and processions, ring church bells, and even put on festivals.
Introduced in 1810 by Maximilian the first, Joseph of Bavaria, the Oktoberfest (Wiesn) attracted nearly seven-million people from all over the world. This all-day event is held annually in September and October at Theresienwiese in Munich, and lasts between 16 and 18 days.
Every year a parade called Wiesn-Einzug ceremonially opens the festival. To officially kick things off, the mayor of Munich taps the first keg and declares the slogan O’zapft! meaning “It’s tapped!”
Dirndl dress for women and leather trousers for men are counted among the traditional costumes. People usually visit Oktoberfest with their friends, work colleagues, or partners. They eat and drink in tents, called Bierzelte, and sway and dance to pop music and traditional Bavarian brass music, which is Blasmusik in German.
The Day of German Unity (Tag der Deutschen Einheit) is the most important public holiday in Germany.
Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germany had been divided into two states: the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). However, after reunification in 1990, the East German states once more became a part of the Federal Republic.
On October 3, a street festival is held every year in different state capitals of Germany, which is also called Ländermeile or “State Mile,” where everyone celebrates the reunification of Germany, often called Deutsche Wiedervereinigung.
The Harvest Festival (Erntedankfest) is celebrated in Germany every year on the first Sunday in October and is one of the country’s oldest traditions.
On this day, the altars in churches are decorated with nuts, vegetables, grains, and fruit to honor God. Thanksgiving parades are organized at different places. The procession is accompanied by numerous flower-bedecked floats (Blumenschmuck); the motifs on the floats represent harvest situations. The Thanksgiving crown (Erntedankkrone) is specifically designed for the procession as a sign of gratitude and is carried by the participants. More than ninety folk-costumes and music groups take part in the largest parades. Many people come to watch the parade, in which people dance and sing.
On October 31, evangelical Christians throughout Germany commemorate the Reformation led by Martin Luther. As a monk and theology professor, he spoke out against the prevailing indulgences of the day. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses (Die 95 Thesen) to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church, protesting against various practices of the Catholic Church he viewed as wrong. With that, he sparked the Reformation movement.
In the Western Church, All Saints’ Day is celebrated on November 1 as the anniversary of the saints. However, the word “saint” or Heiliger in this context doesn’t refer to people who are filled with the Holy Spirit (Heiliger Geist). Instead, the focus is on the “ordinary saints,” or in other words, the people who believe in God under the Christian faith. Many believers visit cemeteries (Friedhöfe) on All Saints’ Day to decorate the graves of their relatives. Many of them place a candle and light on it.
In the German Democratic Republic (GDR), frequent protests were held in 1989. Many citizens called for “freedom to travel instead of mass exodus” and declared their displeasure in prayers for peace among others at the Nikolai Church in Leipzig. The peaceful revolution developed into a mass movement across the GDR and thus increased the pressure on the government of the GDR to remove the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989.
The Day of Repentance and Prayer (Buss- und Bettag) is a holiday of the Evangelical Church and is a day off in a few German states.
On this day, numerous parishes hold evening services and special prayer services, in which the names of the dead who died in the past church year, are read out in order to remember them. Many believers visit cemeteries to decorate the graves of the deceased in order to remember loved ones who passed away.
The Day of Remembrance, which is also known as The Sunday of the Dead (Totensonntag), takes place every year eleven days before the first Advent Sunday.
Advent starts four weeks before Christmas and begins with the first Advent Sunday (Adventssonntag), and ends with the fourth Advent Sunday before Christmas Eve. During Advent, many people decorate their houses with Christmas decorations by hanging a string of lights, Christmas balls, and stars on their windows. In addition to making Christmas decorations, people send Christmas wishes, write wish lists often referred to as Wunschzettel, buy Christmas gifts, and bake Christmas cookies during this time.
You may ask why it is advantageous to know German holidays. There are a number of good reasons!
If you’re keen to learn German on your own, there are a number of ways to do this. Why not choose holidays as a theme? You can start by learning about the German culture, so find a video or TV program about holidays in Germany. Better still - find a video or program about holidays in German, and watch it a few times! That way your ear will get used to the spoken language. You could also watch German movies without subtitles, as this too will train your ear to what correct German sounds like.
If you’re more advanced in German, you can practice your writing skills by writing a letter to your German friend about the holidays video. Or write a short review of the video, and post it on social media! Imagine how impressed your friends will be!
Practice your German pronunciation, and record yourself talking about your holiday in Germany. Pronouncing words correctly in any language is very important, or you may find yourself saying things you don’t mean!
If you’re an absolute beginner, it would be best to start with a book, a CD series, free PDF cheat sheets and preferably your German friend who can help you. Or, you can start with GermanPod101, for free!
Holidays in Germany can also be the perfect opportunity to practice your German! For the best experience, make sure to master at least Level 1 of your German lessons here on GermanPod101 before you go on holiday to Germany. Then don’t be shy! Use it with every native speaker you encounter in every situation. Practicing continuously to speak a language is one of the most important habits if you want to become fluent. Or, if you’re a new subscriber to GermanPod101 in a hurry to get to Germany, study Absolute Beginner German for Every Day to help you get by as a traveller - you will be surprised how far a little German can go!
GermanPod101 is uniquely geared to help you master relevant, everyday vocabulary and phrases, pronounced correctly and in the right context - this will set you on the right track. Our courses are perfectly designed to help you in fun ways!
But do have a holiday first. Ideally you will enjoy a different culture with a visit, and enrich your life in ways you cannot imagine. Don’t wait till 2020 to learn German through GermanPod101 though - it will open a whole new world for you!
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