Holidays in Germany are celebrated differently than in many parts of the world. Germans take their holidays very seriously, with celebrations that are steeped in tradition. Which holidays are celebrated depends on the part of the country you're in, so it’s very important to do your research and know which celebrations are customary for the locations you plan to visit. Read on for a guide to everything you need to know about national holidays in Germany.
There are 15 national holidays in Germany each year.
- German public holidays: 15
- German bank holidays: 11
Mother’s Day in Germany originated during WWII, when medals were given to mothers who produced children for the Vaterland, or Fatherland. After the war, the holiday took on American customs, and today, it’s often celebrated with brunch and a large family meal in the evening. Children will often give small gifts to their mothers as well.
Father’s Day in Germany is a very different celebration than in other parts of the world. It’s always celebrated on Ascension Day, which is the Thursday 40 days after Easter, and many people also take the following Friday off work, resulting in a four-day weekend. Groups of men will work together to pull a wagon full of alcohol and ham on a hiking tour, showing off their manly strength. After the hike, they eat and drink. The holiday is used for many as an excuse to get extremely drunk. In some smaller towns, a tradition is still practiced in which all the men in the town are gathered in the town centre, where the mayor awards the man with the most children with a gift, usually a large ham.
Germany celebrates a number of important holidays. One of the country’s most widely celebrated national holidays is German Unity Day, which commemorates the official date of Germany’s reunification after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990. On this day, politicians give speeches and special TV programming about German history is on for families to enjoy on their day off. In Berlin, there’s live music and other festivities.
Germany also celebrates Swiss National Day, which is marked by public fireworks displays in major cities.
The German holiday that many is the world know about is Oktoberfest, which is a two-week festival that begins in mid-September and ends on the first Sunday of October. Oktoberfest isn’t recognized as a public or national holiday, but draws millions of revelers to Munich for the annual celebration. The first Oktoberfest was a wedding for a Bavarian princess, which was so widely attended, the royal family held another celebration the following year. Today, Oktoberfest is a lot like a large state fair, with carnival rides, games and lots of food and beer.
|Holiday||Name of holiday in German||2017 Date||Bank holiday?|
|New Year’s Day||Neujahrstag||1 January, 2017||Yes|
|Epiphany Day or Three Kings Day||Epiphanie, Epiphanias or Erscheinung des Herrn||6 January, 2017||Yes|
|Good Friday||Karfreitag||14 April, 2017||Yes|
|Easter Monday||Ostermontag||17 April, 2017||Yes|
|May Day or Labour Day||Tag der Arbeit||1 May, 2017||Yes|
|Ascension Day||Christi Himmelfahrt||25 May, 2017||Yes|
|Whit Monday or Pentecost Monday||Pfingstmontag||5 June, 2017||Yes|
|Corpus Christi||Fronleichnam||15 June, 2017||Yes|
|Assumption Day||Mariae Himmelfahrt, Mariae Aufnahme in den Himmel||15 August, 2017||No|
|German Unity Day||Tag der Deutschen Einheit||3 October, 2017||Yes|
|Day of Reformation||31 October, 2017||No|
|All Saints Day||Allerheiligen||1 November, 2017||No|
|Repentance Day||Buss- und Bettag||22 November, 2017||No|
|Christmas Day||Weihnachten||25 December, 2017||Yes|
|Boxing Day||Weihnachtsfeiertag, Stephanstag||26 December, 2017||Yes|
|Holiday||Name of holiday in German||2018 Date||Bank holiday?|
|New Year’s Day||Neujahrstag||1 January, 2018||Yes|
|Epiphany Day or Three Kings Day||Epiphanie, Epiphanias or Erscheinung des Herrn||6 January, 2018||Yes|
|Good Friday||Karfreitag||30 March, 2018||Yes|
|Easter Monday||Ostermontag||2 April, 2018||Yes|
|May Day or Labour Day||Tag der Arbeit||1 May, 2018||Yes|
|Ascension Day||Christi Himmelfahrt||10 May, 2018||Yes|
|Whit Monday or Pentecost Monday||Pfingstmontag||21 May, 2018||Yes|
|Corpus Christi||Fronleichnam||31 May, 2018||Yes|
|Assumption Day||Mariae Himmelfahrt, Mariae Aufnahme in den Himmel||15 August, 2018||No|
|German Unity Day||Tag der Deutschen Einheit||3 October, 2018||Yes|
|Day of Reformation||31 October, 2018||No|
|All Saints Day||Allerheiligen||1 November, 2018||No|
|Repentance Day||Buss- und Bettag||21 November, 2018||No|
|Christmas Day||Weihnachten||25 December, 2018||Yes|
|Boxing Day||Weihnachtsfeiertag, Stephanstag||26 December, 2018||Yes|
|Holiday||Name of holiday in German||2019 Date||Bank holiday?|
|New Year’s Day||Neujahrstag||1 January, 2019||Yes|
|Epiphany Day or Three Kings Day||Epiphanie, Epiphanias or Erscheinung des Herrn||6 January, 2019||Yes|
|Good Friday||Karfreitag||19 April, 2019||Yes|
|Easter Monday||Ostermontag||22 April, 2019||Yes|
|May Day or Labour Day||Tag der Arbeit||1 May, 2019||Yes|
|Ascension Day||Christi Himmelfahrt||30 May, 2019||Yes|
|Whit Monday or Pentecost Monday||Pfingstmontag||10 June, 2019||Yes|
|Corpus Christi||Fronleichnam||20 June, 2019||Yes|
|Assumption Day||Mariae Himmelfahrt, Mariae Aufnahme in den Himmel||15 August, 2019||No|
|German Unity Day||Tag der Deutschen Einheit||3 October, 2019||Yes|
|Day of Reformation||31 October, 2019||No|
|All Saints Day||Allerheiligen||1 November, 2019||No|
|Repentance Day||Buss- und Bettag||20 November, 2019||No|
|Christmas Day||Weihnachten||25 December, 2019||Yes|
|Boxing Day||Weihnachtsfeiertag, Stephanstag||26 December, 2019||Yes|
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Now that you know Germany’s important dates and customs, you’re ready to celebrate like a local. What’s even better is that you won’t get caught needing a bank when they’re all closed for a holiday. Happy holidays!