Different regions in Germany celebrate different holidays. This is an overview of the most popular holidays celebrated in Germany. On public holidays shops, offices, schools and universities are closed.
- New Year’s Day (1 January)
- Good Friday (Friday before Easter)
- Easter Monday
- May 1 (Labour Day)
- Ascension Day (40 days after Easter)
- Whit Monday (51 days after Easter)
- The Day of German Unity (October 3)
- Christmas Eve (December 24)
- Christmas Day and Boxing Day (December 25/26)
New Year’s Eve (Silvester)
New Year’s Eve is not a public holiday in Germany, but New Year’s Day is. Germans typically celebrate the end of the year with great dinner with family or friends, followed by fireworks at midnight.
Carnival (Fasching or Fasnacht)
Carnival is celebrated differently depending on the region. In the Rhineland (Cologne, Düsseldorf, Bonn), Rhine-Main (Wiesbaden), and Black Forest areas of Germany the celebration lasts for several days. People dress up in costumes, celebrate in the streets and pubs, and participate in parades organized by the local towns. In Brandenburg and Berlin, Carnival is celebrated mostly by school children. They are encouraged to dress in costumes and the day is filled with fun, food and games.
Many regions of Germany are predominantly Christian and Easter day is celebrated as the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Children are told that the Easter bunny will bring them eggs, which are hidden in the house or garden for the children to find. In the weeks leading up to Easter chocolate bunnies and eggs can be found in every shop. Easter is often celebrated with a dinner with family.
The weeks leading up to Christmas are a special time in Germany. Many German towns celebrate Christmas starting on the First Advent (the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day) with Christmas Markets and festivities. You can by handmade items and Christmas presents, enjoy a cup of warm Glühwein (mulled wine) or try Lebkuchen (gingerbread).
Many families with children celebrate Saint Nicholas Day on December 6. Children traditionally clean their shoes and place them outside the door the night before hoping they will be filled with goodies or presents during the night.
Christmas is traditionally celebrated on December 24th in Germany. The family gathers to decorate the Christmas tree in the morning and have dinner together in the evening. Presents are exchanged after dinner, often with a Weihnachtsmann (Father Christmas or Santa Claus) delivering presents to the children. Many families attend an evening service at their local church. December 24 through 26 are public holidays and are usually spent with family and friends. Shops and restaurants often have limited hours or are closed.
There are many other regional festivals celebrated in Germany. Most famous is Oktoberfest in Munich, where millions of visitors travel to the Theresienwiese to sample beer, ride carnival rides and hear traditional Bavarian music. In wine-growing regions such as Mosel, Pfalz, and the Rhein Valley, wine festivals are celebrated with wine tasting, specialty foods and music. Annual fairs are also celebrated in nearly every town, usually coinciding with a harvest festival or the day the town was established.
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