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General Comments on German Holidays

Equivalent in English of the Weekdays:
Mo = Montag = Monday; Di=Dienstag=Tuesday; Mi=Mittwoch=Wednesday; Do=Donnerstag= Thursday; Fr=Freitag=Friday; Sa=Samstag=Saturday; So=Sonntag=Sunday

We display in our German calendars the legal holidays. Businesses are then closed, also pharmacies, except for a few "on duty."

Most holidays are rooted in ancient traditions. Yet, because the civic calendar was first instituted in 1582, we do not display any holidays before then. Following are the years when we phase in more recent holidays: Allerheiligen 1800; both, Reformationstag and Buß- und Bettag 1700, the year of the adaptation of the new calendar; Maifeiertag 1889; and, Tag der Deutschen Einheit 1989. The respective holidays are not shown in our calendars before then.

Holidays and Equivalent in English
NeujahrstagNew Years Day
*Heilige Drei Könige Epiphany (Holy Three Magi)
Ostern Easter - Sunday, Monday
Maifeiertag Labor Day
Karfreitag Good Friday
Pfingsten Pentecost (Whitsunday+Whitmonday)
Christi Himmelfahrt Ascension Day
*Fronleichnam Corpus Christi
*Mariä Himmelfahrt Assumption
*Reformationstag Reformation Day
*Allerheiligen All Saints Day
*Buß- und Bettag Day of prayer and repentance
Weihnachtsfeiertage 1st and 2nd day of Christmas

The regional holidays, marked *, are observed only in some states. Some states of Southern Germany observe as legal holidays the traditional catholic holidays of Fronleichnam, Mariä Himmelfahrt, and Allerheiligen. Many Northern states observe the traditional protestant holidays of Reformationstag and Buß- und Bettag, where the former commemorates Luther's posting of his 95 theses in 1519, and Buß- und Bettag is the equivalent of the Eidgenössische Dank, Buß- und Bettag or Jeûne Fédéral of Switzerland, a national day of reflection.

There are processions with large participation in most cities, towns, and villages on Fronleichnam.

Germany, being the busy cross roads of Europe, tends to experience overcrowded roads and railroads under holiday-traffic. The situation is mitigated by truck traffic being strictly prohibited on weekends and holidays.

Another consideration for the travler is vacation traffic, which peaks in step with the school vacations. To mitigate their impact,they are staggered among the German states. Let it suffice to say that overall, the school vacations span the following intervals.

  • Easter vacations 1 week before and after Easter;
  • Pentecost vacations 1 week before and after Pentecost;
  • Sommer vacations 4th week of June through 1st week of September;
  • Fall vacations 2nd week of October to end of October;
  • Christmas vacations 2 days before Christmas through Heilige Drei Könige.

The impact of Easter vacations and fall vacations would seem to be much less than that of the other three.

Change to and from summer time: These two Sundays are marked peru brown in our calendars. Notice that for the spring date, the last Sunday in March is assumed to continue beyond 1997, which is yet uncertain as of this writing (20.10.97).

Wir wünschen Ihnen gute Reise
und angenehmen Aufenthalt in Deutschland!

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