Germany has many exciting holidays. Some are celebrated with most of the World, like Christmas and New Years, while others are celebrated only in Germany like Tag der Deutschen Einheit.
Nonetheless, Germans love to celebrate, so you can rest assured that if you’re in Germany during a holiday, there will most like be some kind of exciting celebration going on.
Table of Contents
- TLDR; German Public Holidays
- Public Holidays in Germany
- Neujahr, 1 January, (New Years Day)
- Heilige Drei Koenige, 6 January, Three Kings Day (in Catholic areas)
- Karfreitag, Friday before Easter (Good Friday)
- Ostersonntag, First Sunday after Good Friday (Easter Sunday)
- Ostermontag, Monday after Easter (Easter Monday)
- 1. Maifeiertag, 1 May, (German Labor Day)
- Christi Himmelfahrt, 40 days after Easter (Ascension Thursday)
- Pfingsten, 7th Sun. and Mon. after Easter (Whit Sunday and Whit Monday)
- Fronleichnam, Thursday after Trinity Sunday (Corpus Christi)
- Maria Himmelfahrt, 15 August, (Assumption Day in Bavaria and Saarland)
- Tag der Deutschen Einheit, 3 October, (German Unity Day)
- Allerheiligen, 1 November, (All Saints Day)
- Volkstrauertag, 2 Sunday before Nov. Advent (National Day of Mourning)
- Weihnachten, 25 & 26 December (Christmas Day)
- Silvester, 31 December (New Year’s Eve)
- Common Festivities/Traditions during holidays in Germany
- Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market)
- Advent Calendar
- Gingerbread House
- Christmas Tree
- Stollen Cake
- Sinterklaas Celebration
- Easter Bunny
- Pumpkin Soup
- Pajama Day
- Frying Pan Throwing Contest
- Candy Cane Lane, Cologne
- Fairy Tale Road, Germany
- Cologne Carnival Party – Karneval
- International Women’s Day
- World Children’s Day
- Rhine Westphalia Rhineland Palatinate
- Reformation Day
TLDR; German Public Holidays
|Name of Holiday||Date||English Translation|
|Neujahr||1 January||New Years Day|
|Heilige drei Koenige||6 January||Three Kings Day (in Catholic areas)|
|Karfreitag||Friday before Easter||Good Friday|
|Ostersonntag||First Sunday after Good Friday||Easter Sunday|
|Ostermontag||Monday after Easter||Easter Monday|
|1. Maifeiertag||1 May||German Labor Day|
|Christi Himmelfahrt||40 days after Easter||Ascension Thursday|
|Pfingsten||7th Sun. and Mon. after Easter||Whit Sunday and Whit Monday|
|Fronleichnam||Thursday after Trinity Sunday||Corpus Christi|
|Maria Himmelfahrt||15 August||Assumption Day (in Bavaria and Saarland)|
|Tag der Deutschen Einheit||3 October||German Unity Day|
|Allerheiligen||1 November||All Saints Day (in Catholic areas)|
|Volkstrauertag||2 Sundays before Nov. Advent||National Day of Mourning|
|Weihnachten||25 and 26 December||Christmas|
Public Holidays in Germany
Neujahr, 1 January, (New Years Day)
Neujahr (New Year) is celebrated on January 1st. This holiday marks the beginning of a new year. In Germany, people often spend time with family and friends, eating special foods and watching fireworks displays.
Heilige Drei Koenige, 6 January, Three Kings Day (in Catholic areas)
Heilige Drei Koenig is celebrated on January 6th in English Three Kings Day. This holiday celebrates the visit of the Three Wise Men to baby Jesus. Germans typically celebrate this day by eating special foods, going to church, and exchanging gifts.
Karfreitag, Friday before Easter (Good Friday)
Karfreitag is a religious holiday celebrated on the Friday before Easter. It commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In Germany, many people attend church services and observe a period of fasting.
Ostersonntag, First Sunday after Good Friday (Easter Sunday)
Ostersonntag is a Christian holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Germany, people typically celebrate by attending church services and spending time with family and friends.
Ostermontag, Monday after Easter (Easter Monday)
Ostermontag is a Christian holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Germany, people typically celebrate by attending church services and spending time with family and friends.
1. Maifeiertag, 1 May, (German Labor Day)
1. Maifeiertag (lit. May Celebration Day) is a German labor day holiday that celebrates workers’ rights. This day is typically marked by parades, speeches, and special foods.
Christi Himmelfahrt, 40 days after Easter (Ascension Thursday)
Ascension Day, or Christi Himmelfahrt as it’s known, is a Christian holiday that celebrates the ascension day of Jesus Christ into heaven. In Germany, this day is typically celebrated by attending church services.
Pfingsten, 7th Sun. and Mon. after Easter (Whit Sunday and Whit Monday)
Pfingsten is a Christian holiday that celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit. In Germany, this day is celebrated by attending religious services and spending time with family and friends.
Fronleichnam, Thursday after Trinity Sunday (Corpus Christi)
Fronleichnam is a high festival in the church year of the Catholic Church, with which the enduring presence of Jesus Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist is celebrated in Germany. This day is typically celebrated by attending church services and processions.
In addition to incense and altar bells at church services, the Eucharistic Christ is greeted with scattered flower petals and in some parts of Germany a gun salute!
Maria Himmelfahrt, 15 August, (Assumption Day in Bavaria and Saarland)
Maria Himmelfahrt is a Catholic holiday that celebrates the assumption of Mary into heaven. In some parts of Germany, this day is celebrated by going to church and eating special foods.
Tag der Deutschen Einheit, 3 October, (German Unity Day)
Tag der Deutschen Einheit is a national holiday in Germany that celebrates the German reunification of East and West Germany. This day is an important holiday for bringing Germans together. This day is typically celebrated by attending national celebrations like flag-waving parades, concerts, and a peace festival.
Allerheiligen, 1 November, (All Saints Day)
Allerheiligen (All Saints Day) is a Catholic holiday that celebrates all of the saints. In Germany, this day is typically celebrated by attending church services.
Volkstrauertag, 2 Sunday before Nov. Advent (National Day of Mourning)
Volkstrauertag is a national holiday in Germany that remembers those who have died in Germany’s wars since the late 19th Century. This day is typically marked by attending a church service and observing a period of silence.
Weihnachten, 25 & 26 December (Christmas Day)
Weihnachten (Christmas) is a religious holiday celebrated on December 25th (Christmas Day) and 26th (a cheeky extra national holiday). In Germany, it’s traditional to attend church services, spend time with family and friends, and exchange gifts.
While it’s common in the US, the UK, and Commonwealth to open presents on Christmas Day, gifts are normally exchanged on Christmas Eve (December 24th).
And instead of stockings, you exchange gifts in boots!
Silvester, 31 December (New Year’s Eve)
Silvester is a holiday that celebrates the start of a new year. In Germany, this day is typically celebrated by attending parties and watching fireworks displays.
Common Festivities/Traditions during holidays in Germany
Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market)
Christmas markets are open-air markets that are typically set up in German cities during the weeks of the Christmas holidays. The markets feature stalls selling festive food, drinks, and gifts. Christmas markets are everywhere in Germany! We have a bunch of them here in Berlin, including the charming little ones on Breitscheidplatz and Winterfeldtplatz. The most famous one is at the foot of the Brandenburg Gate, though.
An advent calendar displays a series of doors associated with special days leading up to Christmas. People typically open one door per day beginning on December 1st until all 24 doors have been opened on Christmas Eve.
Instead of doors, calendars may feature windows that open to reveal a brief holiday greeting, chocolate, or small gift. Advent calendars are most commonly associated with German-speaking countries and other European countries that celebrate Christmas.
A house made out of gingerbread, often shaped like a cottage or other familiar buildings, is a popular Christmas decoration and treat in Germany. These houses are often elaborately decorated and can be quite complicated to make. But they’re definitely worth it, especially when they’re covered in frosting and sugar crystals!
Come to think of it, Hansel and Gretel and the Gingerbread House is a German tale…
Did you know that Germany is credited with the invention of the Christmas tree tradition?
Supposedly, on one Christmas Eve in the 16th Century, a woodsman exploring the freezing forest came across the most perfect, fir tree, highlighted by the sun’s rays, causing the snow and icicles to gleam, sparkle and shimmer.
So moved was he by the spectacle, he cut down a small fir, set it up at home, and attached candles to it, so that his kids could see the magic spectacle he’d witnessed.
The Christmas tree is a popular decoration in German homes during the holiday season. Evergreen trees such as spruce, fir, and pine are typically used, and the trees are often decorated with ornaments, lights, and tinsel.
Stollen cake is a tasty holiday treat most popular during Christmas time in Germany. A stollen cake is usually rich and filled with dried fruit such as raisins, currants, and more. A stollen cake is usually covered in powdered sugar or icing for decoration.
The Oktoberfest is a popular beer festival that takes place in Munich, Germany every year in late September and early October. The festival celebrates the Bavarian culture and attracts millions of visitors from all over the world. At the Oktoberfest, you can enjoy traditional German food, beer, music, and dancing!
Sinterklaas is a holiday celebrated on December 5th in the Netherlands, and December 6th to 10th in Germany.
This holiday honors Saint Nicholas, a 4th Century Greek bishop who gave gifts to poor children. Gifts are brought by Sinterklass along with his companions Knecht Ruprecht (Rupert the Servant), the slightly problematic Zwarte Peter (Black Pete), Belsnickel (the guy who would originally drop off gifts or coal in your shoes depending on your year), and of course; Krampus – the naughty child’s version of the Punisher.
Sinterklaas is often depicted as a man wearing a red cape and miter, and he carries a staff with a white ball at the end. In Germany, there are many parades and celebrations associated with Sinterklaas.
He’s sort of like the OG Santa Claus in Germany and a separate entity from Der Weihnachtsmann (who is the weird commercialized combo of Sinterklaas and Father Christmas). This means German kids are getting extra presents that the rest of us aren’t.
St. Nicholas Day is celebrated with a parade in some German cities, including Munich and Nuremberg. The parades often include floats decorated to look like different characters from different fairy tales, such as Little Red Riding Hood or Cinderella
The Easter bunny is a popular character in Germany during the weeks leading up to Easter. Kids can usually find colored eggs hidden around their homes and gardens by the Easter bunny, who may also leave them chocolate treats or toys!
A pretzel is a very popular snack in German-speaking countries. Pretzels are baked, not fried, and are typically served with salt sprinkled over the top. They can also be made in a variety of shapes, including braids.
Due to their popularity and abundance, they are a major player in terms of most German holiday foods.
Pumpkin soup is a traditional German dish that is most popular during the fall and winter months. It’s actually quite simple to make, consisting of butter or oil, onions, leeks, or shallots.
Combine this with a pretzel at an Oktoberfest and you’re in for a good time!
Pajama Day is a fun holiday for kids in Germany, typically celebrated on the last school day before winter break. Pajamas are often worn to school and there may be special activities planned by teachers or other school employees.
Frying Pan Throwing Contest
The frying pan throwing contest is a popular event that takes place during the annual Carnival celebration in Germany. Contestants compete to see who can throw a frying pan the farthest. The event is usually considered a light-hearted, fun competition and is often attended by spectators who enjoy watching the frying pans fly!
Candy Cane Lane, Cologne
Candy Cane Lane is a popular Christmas attraction in Cologne, Germany. The lane is filled with brightly-lit Christmas trees and decorations, and it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in the city during the holiday season!
Fasching is a popular holiday in Austria and southern Germany that focuses on having fun and obeying rules.
Fasching traditions include large street parades. The holiday usually takes place in the weeks leading up to Lent.
Fairy Tale Road, Germany
The Fairy Tale Road is a popular tourist attraction in Germany that takes visitors to various spots where famous fairy tales were set. The road winds through the picturesque countryside and is a great way to see some of Germany’s most beautiful scenery.
It’s a popular destination to host various festivals throughout the year.
Cologne Carnival Party – Karneval
Cologne Carnival is the biggest street party in Germany. From January 6 to Ash Wednesday, you’ll see lots of parades with floats, costumes, marching bands, and beer! The party atmosphere is contagious, so it’s a great time to visit Cologne and join in the fun!
International Women’s Day
In Germany, this day is also known as Frauentag. It is a day to celebrate women and their accomplishments. Many events are held throughout the country, including concerts, speeches, and exhibitions.
World Children’s Day
Is also celebrated in Germany as Tag der Kinderrechte. This day is a public holiday which is a non-working holiday, so citizens have the day off to celebrate with their kids and participate in activities that are designed to help kids learn how to protect their rights.
Rhine Westphalia Rhineland Palatinate
During the holiday season, many Germans visit the Rhine Westphalia Rhineland Palatinate region of their country. The area is known for its beautiful Christmas markets that sell a variety of ornaments, toys, and other holiday items.
Reformation Day is a national holiday in Germany that celebrates the Protestant Reformation. The holiday falls on October 31 and commemorates the day in 1517 when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses. Reformation Day is celebrated with parades, concerts, and other events throughout Germany.
There are a lot of national holidays and public holidays in Germany that is celebrated similarly to other countries like Christmas, New Year, Father’s Day, and Mother’s Day but there are also unique of their own. Traditions may also be the same and some are not. But the important thing is we remember and enjoy these holidays accordingly.
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