German Holidays in Bavaria
There are more than 13 Holidays Celebrated in Bavaria!
German Holidays (and Bavarian Holidays of course) are very important in the culture of the people.
Because of the deep religious roots of many Catholics living in the area, and a German tendency to celebrate when a celebration is definitely called for, there is no shortage of holidays here.
From East to Christmas and everything in between, here is a brief look at the German Holidays celebrated in Bavaria.
I know what you are thinking, and NO Oktoberfest is not actually a holiday.
But Easter and Christmas are. So is Tag der Arbeit, Christi Himmelfahrt, and Heilige Drei Konige.
But, if you don’t know German, you are going to have to keep reading to figure out what those are!
German Holidays - New Years Day - Neujahrstag
For the most part, Germany celebrates the New Year much the way we do here in the United States.
Drinking, dancing, and general partying can be found anywhere you look. Of course, beer can be found anywhere you look as well.
But the real message is that you will find many people celebrating all of the things that are to come during the next year. Just like in the U.S. many people make a New Years resolution.
There are a couple of traditions; however that are not customary with Americans celebrating New Years.
For example, Bleigießen is a fortune that is told after dropping hot molten lead into cold water. Whatever shapes turns up is supposed to be the fortune.
So, if you get something that looks like a heart, your fortune is that you will find love in the New Year. Celebrating New Year’s is not uncommon for Americans, but celebrating Saint Sylvester probably is.
Saint Sylvester was a pope in the 4th century and happens to be celebrated the same day as New Year’s Eve.
German Holidays - Epiphany - Heilige Drei Könige
Heilige Drei Könige is a German holiday that is really an extension of the Christmas season. On another pag you can read all about German Christmas traditions.
Boy – the Germans really love to celebrate Christmas, don’t they?
Really a celebration of the three kings visit to Jesus after he was born.
Epiphany is truly a special event, especially in Bavaria. You may find children dressing up as one of the wise men (also called the Magi) and going from door to door singing carols about their visit to Jesus.
During the church service, people may act out the visit of the wise men or the entire Christmas story. There are often cribs at home and at church to symbolize Jesus’ birth. The Magi are put into the crib on the 6th of January, which is Epiphany Day.
German Holidays - Good Friday - Karfreitag & Easter Sunday and Monday – Ostersonntag & Ostermontag
Good Friday and Easter are very much related and very important to Germans. Because many people who live in Germany are Christians, the celebration of Christ being resurrected is a major holiday.
Good Friday is the start to a family oriented Easter weekend. Families attend church and celebrate the passover feast. Many Bavarian's use this time to reflect on the renewal of life and story of Jesus dying on the cross, only to be brought back again on Easter day.
In many ways, Germans celebrate Easter very similarly to the way I was brought up in the Midwest of the United States.
Families get together and celebrate not just the holiday, but family as well. Big feasts prepared by the family and enjoyed by the family are one of the highlights of the special day.
Children go for an Easter egg or Easter basket hunt during the day. Later in the afternoon many families go for a walk to relax, catch up, and wear off those extra Easter feast calories.
Some of the towns in Bavaria have an Easter fire, where the fire is lit somewhere in town like a sports field. The fire symbolizes life triumphing over death.
German Holidays - Labor Day - Tag der Arbeit
International Workers Day is celebrated on May 1st of the year in Germany. The first Labor Day was actually suggested by the Nazi party in 1933, the same party that sought to destroy labor unions and suppress free thought ordered the holiday as a way to try to unify the country.
The holiday is celebrated in a similar fashion as in the U.S. Many have the day off and use the time to relax with family and friends.
The holiday is viewed to be more of a working class holiday than a white collar holiday, however and is such observed accordingly.
Many people also choose to use this day to expose their feelings about the unemployment rate in Germany. You can find some picketing and other outward displays of contempt for the economy in some large cities because of this.
Another way May 1st is celebrated is by the raising of a maypole in the city or village.
As a way to express anxiousness for better weather and an end of winter, a maypole is decorated and raised.
A Pine or Burch tree trunk with carvings of people or things, flowers, and other embellishments is sometimes topped with a pine tree.
Usually the pole is raised in the town zentrum, or center. Many people love to come to the Maibaum raising and party that follows. After the pole ceremony, there is usually a party with wurst and beer.
German Holidays - Ascension Day - Christi Himmelfahrt
Ascension Day in Germany is celebrated in a couple of different ways.
Firstly, it is a Catholic day to celebrate Jesus’ “Ascension” into heaven. Many people attend a church service on that day to thank God.
In some villages, a parade of people goes through a four phase procession where four different Bible verses are read. These parades or processions are called Flurprozession ro Oeschprozession.
Another way that this day is celebrated is that it is Men’s Day or Father’s Day. Often times men will get together and enjoy an activity followed by a feast that they eat together. Ascension Day is celebrated on a Thursday that falls 39 days after Easter.
German Holidays - Whit Monday – Pfingstmontag & Corpus Christi – Fronleichnam
Whit Monday is basically a celebration of the second day of the Pentecost.
Whit Sunday night is a night for a little bit of mischief for young Germans. You may find benches, stools, and other furniture and perhaps even agricultural tools moved to a different home on Whit Monday.
If a woman wakes up with birch hammered to the side of her house, she knows she has a secret or not so secret admirer who would love to become her husband. Many Germans attend a church service to observe this June 1st holiday.
In observing the holy sacrament of communion, Corpus Christi is another Holiday steeped in religion.
Celebrated about 60 days after Easter many people go to church and take communion. In Cologne, the event is marked by Muelheimer Gottestracht, a parade of ships cruising down the Rhine River.
German Holidays - The Peace Festival – Friedensfest
Celebrated only in Augsburg on August the 8th, the Peace festival celebrates an important date for Christians in Augsburg.
In the early 1600’s Christians lost their plight for religious freedom. The Peace of Westphalia took place on 1648 and is now celebrated in August of each year.
Many attend special church services and every three years there is a “Peace Prize Winner” for the city.
German Holidays - Assumption Day - Mariä Himmelfahrt & German Unity Day - Tag der Deutschen Einheit
Assumption Day is yet another religious based Holiday in Germany. Many citizens are sure to observe the day by going to church or mass.
It is very common for people to collect special herbs such as St. John’s Wort, Mugwort, Chamomile and others known for their medicinal properties.
Many time these herbs are exhibited on the alter during the church service. The first hazelnuts or walnuts are also harvested at this time and shared with the children. This is celebrated on August 15.
German Unity day is celebrated much like the Fourth of July is for the United States.
The occasion celebrates the day that the nation unified into one federal country of Germany. Fireworks can be found throughout the country and people like to celebrate by eating and drinking together. October 3, 1990 was the day of the official unification and the holiday is celebrated on October 3rd every year.
Festivals, parades, and public speeches from government officials are all common practices on that day.
German Holidays - All Saints - Allerheiligen
All Saints Day is celebrated on November 1st of each year.
As the name suggests, Saints are the topic of the celebration. This day is used as a day to remember all of the Saints who have passed on, as well as loved ones that have passed.
Similar to Memorial Day in the United States, people may visit the graves of friends and family buried in the cemetery. Flowers and other memorials are often placed near the gravesites as well.
Munich Events And German Holidays
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History Of Munich Part One
German Christmas traditions