Celebrate Holidays In Traditional German Style
Every culture has their own particular way of celebrating their holidays, and the German Culture is no exception. Yes, it’s true that most festive occasions in Deutschland are of a religious nature, and it’s nice to know how the country celebrates.
No need to look like a tourist if you don’t have to. ;-)
Epiphany (Dreikönigstag) Jan 6
Known as Little Christmas, and where you’ll see children singing carols. Everyone’s welcome to eat some Dreikönigskuchen — but it’s supposed to be good luck to whomever eats the lucky object inside.
Candlemas (Mariä Lichtmess) Feb 2
Folks from the U.S. know it as Groundhog Day, but us Germans know this day falls right between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Celebrated exactly 40 days after Christmas, it’s all about the light. That’s why candle blessings are traditionally done.
Carnival (Karneval/Fasching) Feb/Mar
Here’s where things get tricky. The Carnival Season really kicks off on November 11th at 11:11 in the city of Cologne (and the Rhineland) — except during Advent and Christmas. Traditionally, everyone associates the lead-up to the Lenten season within a week of Ash Wednesday (40 days before Easter).
If you’re in the Catholic regions of Germany (generally the South & West of the country), you’re more for partying in a masquerade style parade festival (with lots of drinking); while the Protestant (North & East) are known for a more subdued affair eating Berliners (donuts) and other sweet treats.
Good Friday/Easter (Karfreitag/Ostern) Mar/Apr
Good Friday is a solemn affair in Germany, often without any public performances or even church bells ringing in the town squares. Most people are off work or school at this time (and traditionally not eating any meat but fish), and only true touristy places are even open.
Holy Saturday (the day before Easter) is a lively event (compared to the relative quiet the day before) with Easter bonfires and Easter Markets taking place. Easter Sunday (Ostersonntag) and Easter Monday (Ostermontag) are even more festive, with folks heading off to church and eating a hearty lamb dinner, and presenting kids with the play of searching Easter eggs and gifts (in the garden, living room, etc.).
Walpurgis Night/May Day (Walpurgisnacht/Mayfeiertag) April 30/May 1
Walpurgis Night is said to be the day that witches wait for Spring — but you’ll find plenty of Germans just dancing their hearts out by the bonfires. Hmm, maybe this is why the traditional saying is “Tanz in den Mai,” or Dance into May!
Assumption Day (Mariä Himmelfahrt) Aug 15
Technically this mid-August date isn’t a “public” holiday (except Bavaria and the Saarland), but it’s common for people to head to church AND pick herbs out in the gardens.
Reformation Day (Reformationstag) Oct 31
Sure, it’s Halloween — but it’s also a special date on the Lutheran calendar. It’s a public holiday in the federal states of Baden-Württemberg, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia, celebrated with the Feast of the Protestant Reformation.
Advent (4 weeks prior to Christmas Day)
Almost every German city, town, village, and hamlet have Advent markets, bazaars, and concerts to ring in the joyous season of Christmas. These Christmas/Advent events are legendary — bringing people from all over the world to experience them.
And certainly a terrific way to end a year of celebrations.
You may want to bookmark this page as our holidays are scheduled to stay. ;-)
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