Is There A German Halloween? Not In October!

Many people who travel Germany in late October have remarked to me that German people don’t seem to be very into Halloween. This is no surprise. Despite the best efforts of the marketing people to turn Halloween into a global event, it isn’t one of the traditional German holidays.

Instead, on October 31st, some parts of Germany will be celebrating Reformation Day, but otherwise it’s a day like any other. The bigger day in Germany isn’t “All Hallow’s Eve” but rather November 1st, All Saints Day, Allerheiligen. It’s a public holiday in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Saarland.

And yet . . . you do see Halloween things in the shops around the end of October. There are a few witches hats, monster masks, and orange and black products for sale. Some areas with a lot of expats will organize trick or treating door to door for children, but this isn’t a widespread custom.

A better plan to get the “Halloween Spirit” would be to take your family to one of the Pumpkin Festivals. These are more about celebrating the harvest and having a party than real Halloween, but they do include pumpkin carving contests, fun rides, and costume competitions.

Some of the biggest are in Dormagen, which has its own Pumpkin Island, and in amusement parks such as Belantis outside Leipzig, which incorporates a Halloween theme and offers discounts for children in costume, and the Europa-Park in Rust near Freiburg, which got an entire week of Halloween stuff going on.

This is not to imply that Germany is completely without a Halloween-like tradition, though. The Celtic people who are responsible for most of the Halloween legends lived in many places in Germany, leaving behind their stories of witches and ghouls.

The difference for us Germans is that we choose to acknowledge and celebrate those legends in April, not October. Known as Walpurgis Night, this “German Halloween” has bonfires, costume parties, and witch hats galore.

Thus, if you don’t feel like you’ve gotten the Halloween you wanted in Germany in October, well, you will just have to come back and visit again in the spring! ;-)

—Marcus

 

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