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Main National Holidays in Germany

National German HolidaysGermany has many exciting national holidays. Some are celebrated with most of the world, like Easter and Christmas. Others are celebrated only in Germany like Tag der Deutschen Einheit (German Unity Day).

Here is a list of some popular German holidays:

Easter Monday (Ostermontag)

Easter Monday, Ostern, is an annual national holiday in Germany that follows Easter Sunday, which remembers Christ’s resurrection. The Germanic celebration of Easter is very much like that of the Americans, only that the Germans observe Ostern with various local customs including egg races, walks in the countryside and early morning candle-lit parades. Ostern is a public holiday in all German states. Banks, post offices, stores and other businesses are close on this day. Church celebrations of Easter initially lasted for a whole week. However, most modern communities now celebrate these holidays as single days.

Pentecost Holiday (Pfingsten)

Just like the Americans, the Germanic people celebrate Pentecost to mark the descent of Holy Spirit on the followers of Jesus. Many local and regional customs that go back to pre-Christmas times are associated with Pentecost Sunday. Most Germans attend a special-church-service at Pentecost. Birch trees are decorated with large wreaths in parts of the state of Lower Saxony. Spring fun fairs are also held in most parts of the country. Public life in Germany on Pentecost is similar to that on Sundays. Banks, post offices, stores and other businesses close on this day.

German Unity Day (Tag der Deutschen Einheit)

Celebrated on October 3rd, Tag der Deutschen Einheit commemorates the reunification of West and East Germany in 1990. On this day, you will see the country’s flag proudly displayed on public buildings. German Unity Day is marked with various celebrations around the country starting with a state ceremony that is hosted by a different city yearly. Special activities on this day include fireworks, public speeches by politicians, and free cultural concerts. The Germans also love gathering in public places and bars to drink and celebrate this day.

Harvest Festival Holiday (Erntedankfest)

The Erntedank holiday is the German-version of the American Thanksgiving Day celebration. This celebration offers the German people a perfect opportunity to acknowledge-the-work & various accomplishments-that-have transpired throughout their country over the previous year. Unlike the Americans, the Germans don’t celebrate Erntedank on a specific date. Furthermore, it is not honored and celebrated by all Germans. Actually, Erntedank is a religious festive celebrated by Germans in rural areas. It takes-place at a church on the 1st Sunday of November, and usual activities include music, parades, dancing and feasting.

Christmas Day Christmas Day (Weihnachten)

This is an annual holiday in Germany celebrated on December 25. Most people spend the day with their families and close friends. Some attend church services and many sing Christmas carols. Large meals with traditional foods such as boiled potatoes and Dumplings are served and Christmas decorations are displayed. The decorations include wooden nutcrackers, Christmas trees, and cribs with figures representing Joseph, Mary, Jesus, the shepherds and the 3 wise men. December 26 is a quiet day to recover from the Christmas celebrations and prepare for the winter sales.

Neujahr (New Year’s)

Just like the Americans, the Germans too have a New Year’s holiday. It falls on the first day of the year and is a national holiday. In cities all over Germany, there are fireworks and parties on the night of December 31st to welcome Neujahr. The grandest celebrations take place in Brandenburg Tor in Berlin. Whereas most Germans celebrate the evening of December 31th partying and lighting fireworks in major cities, some prefer spending New Year’s Eve (Silvester) and New Year’s Day quietly at home with their families. A tradition that some families still observe to this day is to serve a fish dish with a side of carrots and cabbage on New Year’s Eve. Together with champagne, it is a sign of financial stability and wealth for the family for the coming year.

Tag der Deutschen Einheit (German Unity Day)

Celebrated on October 3rd, Tag der Deutschen Einheit commemorates the reunification of West and East Germany in 1990. On this day, you will see the country’s flag proudly displayed on public buildings. German Unity Day is marked with various celebrations around the country starting with a state ceremony that is hosted by a different city yearly. Special activities on this day include fireworks, public speeches by politicians, and free cultural concerts. The Germans also love gathering in public places and bars to drink and celebrate this day.

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