Traditions, Holidays & Celebrations

Vacations in Germany are numerous

Written by Garry on


The German calender is dotted with numerous long standing traditional events. Statutory holidays can be of religious or political origin and can be nationwide or exclusive to certain federal states.

Interestingly, holidays are not moved as in some countries; when the fixed date falls on a Sunday, then that day off is lost for most of the workforce, since the day would be free anyway with shops normally closed. Celebrations that are not days off include Thanksgiving, St Martins, Halloween and St Nicolas. Regional vacations that are free include Carnival Rose Monday (Rosenmontag) in North Rhine Westphalia or Epiphany (Heilige Drei Könige) in Bavaria.

Political holidays are fixed to a date and include Labour Day, which is officially called “day of the confession of freedom and peace, social justice, national reconciliation and human dignity”. Unification Day is another. Since 1990, October 3 is celebrated as Day of German Unification because this was the year when the reunion of East and West Germany became effective after 40 years of separation throughout the Cold War.

Religious holidays follow the church calendar. They are notable in that both Protestant and Catholic celebrations receive equal representation throughout Germany. Protestant and Catholic Christian belief are the foundation of most holidays, such as Easter, All Saint’s or Christmas. Other festivities have more pagan or rural origins.

National dates include January 1: New Year (Neujahr); March or April: Good Friday (Karfreitag) and Easter Monday (Ostermontag); May 1: Labour Day (Maifeiertag); May or June: Ascension Day (Christi Himmelfahrt); June: Whit Monday (Pfingstmontag); Corpus Christi (Fronleichnam); October 3: Unification Day (Tag der deutschen Einheit); Novemer1: All Saint’s Day (Allerheiligen); December 25: Christmas Day (1. Weihnachtstag); December 26: Boxing Day (2. Weihnachtstag).

Interestingly, a few days a year fall on a Thursday giving employees the chance to take a so-called bridge day (Brückentag). Many oft for the four days off with roads becoming ghostly quiet.

Saint Nicholas

In Germany children put a plate or one of their boots in front of their bedroom door on the eve of December 6, a traditional celebration known as Saint Nicholas Day. The kind Bishop of Myra in southern Anatolia is patron saint of, amongst others, children, thieves and the falsely accused.

New Year

The new year for Germany begins on January 1, since the country is firmly nestled in the Gregorian calender and has been for centuries. With the following day a bank holiday, at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve people dash from parties to balconies or gardens to set off fireworks.


Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday fall on the first Weekend following the first full moon following the spring equinox on March 21, a time of the year when the length of day and night are equal. Children search for eggs hidden by the Easter bunny; smiles and laughter guaranteed.