A Calendar of German Holidays and Customs - German-English

A Calendar of Holidays in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland

Holidays and Observances in German-Speaking Europe

Holidays (Feiertage) marked with an asterisk ( * ) are official national holidays in Germany and/or the other German-speaking countries. Some of the holidays listed here are regional or specifically Catholic or Protestant celebrations only.

Note that certain holidays (Erntedankfest, Muttertag/Mother's Day, Vatertag/Father's Day, etc.) are observed on different dates in different countries in Europe and around the world.

For holidays that do not fall on a fixed date, see the Bewegliche Feste (movable feasts / holidays) table following the January through December table.

Holidays with Fixed Dates

FeiertagHolidayDatum/Date
JANUAR
Neujahr*New Year's Day1. Januar (am ersten Januar)
Heilige Drei
Könige
*
Epiphany,
Three Kings
6. Januar (am sechsten Januar)
A public holiday in Austria and the states of Baden-Württemberg, Bayern (Bavaria), and Sachsen-Anhalt in Germany.
 
FEBRUAR
Mariä
Lichtmess
Candlemas
(Groundhog Day)
2. Februar (am zweiten Feb.)
Catholic regions
ValentinstagValentine's Day14. Februar (am vierzehnten Feb.)
Fasching,
Karneval
Mardi Gras
Carnival
In Catholic regions in Feb. or Mar., depending on the date of Easter. See Movable Feasts
MÄRZ
Day of the Illam ersten Sonntag im März (first Sunday in March; only in Switzerland)
International Women's Day8. März (am achten März)
JosephstagSt. Joseph's Day19. März (am neunzehnten März; only in parts of Switzerland)
Mariä
Verkündigung
Annunciation25. März (am fünfundzwanzigsten März)
 
APRIL
Erster AprilApril Fool's Day1. April (am ersten April)
Karfreitag*Good DayFriday before Easter; see Movable Feasts
OsternEasterOstern falls in March or April, depending on the year; see Movable Feasts
WalpurgisnachtWalpurgis Night30. April (am dreißigsten April) in Germany (Harz). Witches (Hexen) gather on eve of St. Walpurga's feast day (May Day).
MAI
Erster Mai*
Tag der Arbeit
May Day
Labor Day
1. Mai (am ersten Mai)
MuttertagMother's Day2nd Sunday in May
(Austria, Germany, Switz.)

*National holiday
JUNI
Father's Day12. Juni 2005
2nd Sunday in June
(Austria only; diff. date in Germany)
JohannistagSt. John the Baptist's Day24. Juni (am vierundzwanzigsten Juni)
SiebenschläferSt. Swithin's Day27. Juni (am siebenundzwanzigsten Juni) Folklore: If it rains on this day it will rain for the next seven weeks. A Siebenschläfer is a dormouse.
 
 
FeiertagHolidayDatum/Date
JULI
Gedenktag des Attentats auf Hitler 1944**Commemorative day of the assassination attempt on Hitler in 194420. Juli - Germany
**This is more of an observance than an official holiday. On July 20, 1944 an assassination plot against Hitler failed when a bomb placed by Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg detonated but only injured the dictator slightly. Von Stauffenberg and his fellow conspirators were arrested and hanged. Today von Stauffenberg and the other plotters are recognized for trying to end Nazi terror and restore democracy in Germany.
AUGUST
National-
feiertag
*
Swiss National Day1. August (am ersten Aug.)
Celebrated with fireworks
Mariä
Himmelfahrt
Assumption15. August
SEPTEMBER
Michaelis (das)
der Michaelistag
Michaelmas (Feast of St. Michael the Archangel)29. September (am neunundzwangzigsten Sept.)
Oktoberfest
München
Oktoberfest - MunichTwo-week celebration beginning in late Sept. and ending on the first Sunday in October.
ErntedankfestGerman ThanksgivingEnd of September or early October; not an official holiday
OKTOBER
Tag der
deutschen
Einheit
*
Day of German Unity3. Oktober - Germany's national holiday was moved to this date after the Berlin Wall came down.
National-
feiertag
*
National Holiday (Austria)26. Oktober (am sechsundzwanzigsten Okt.) Austria's national holiday, called Flag Day, commemorates the founding of the Republik Österreich in 1955.
HalloweenHalloween31. Oktober (am einunddreißigsten Okt.) Halloween is not a traditional German celebration, but in recent years it has become increasingly popular in Austria and Germany.
NOVEMBER
AllerheiligenAll Saints' Day1. November (am ersten Nov.)
AllerseelenAll Souls' Day2. November (am zweiten Nov.)
   For the Protestant version of the Catholic All Soul's Day, see Movable Holidays and Totensonntag in November.
MartinstagMartinmas11. November (am elften Nov.) Traditional roast goose (Martinsgans) and lantern light processsions for children on the evening of the 10th. The 11th is also the official start of the Fasching/Karneval season in some regions.
DEZEMBER
NikolaustagSt. Nicholas Day6. Dezember (am sechsten Dez.) - On this day the white-bearded St. Nicholas (not Santa Claus) brings gifts to children who left their shoes in front of the door the night before.
Mariä
Empfängnis
Feast of the Immaculate Conception8. Dezember (am achten Dez.)
HeiligabendChristmas Eve24. Dezember (am vierundzwanzigsten Dez.) - This is when German children receive their presents (die Bescherung) around the Christmas tree (der Tannenbaum).
   For Christmas and New Year's vocabulary see our English-German Christmas and Silvester Glossary.
Weihnachten*Christmas Day25. Dezember (am fünfundzwanzigsten Dez.).
Zweiter
Weihnachtstag
*
Second Day of Christmas26. Dezember (am sechsundzwanzigsten Dez.). Known as Stephanstag, St. Stephen's Day, in Austria.
SilvesterNew Year's Eve31. Dezember (am einunddreißigsten Dez.).
*Official national or regional holiday

Movable Holidays with No Fixed Date
Movable Feasts | Bewegliche Feste

FeiertagHolidayDatum/Date
JANUAR - FEBRUAR - MÄRZ
Schmutziger
Donnerstag
Weiberfastnacht
Dirty Thursday

Women's Carnival
Last Thursday of Fasching/Karneval when women traditionally snip off men's ties
RosenmontagRose MondayDate depends on Easter (Ostern) - Date of Karneval parades in the Rheinland - 4 Feb. 2008, 23 Feb. 2009
Fastnacht
Karneval
Shrove Tuesday
“Mardi Gras”
Date depends on Easter (Ostern) - Carnival (Mardi Gras)
Fasching / Shrove Tuesday
AschermittwochAsh WednesdayEnd of the Carnival season; start of Lent (Fastenzeit)
Aschermittwoch / Ash Wednesday
APRIL - MAI - JUNI
 
PalmsonntagPalmsundaySunday before Easter (Ostern)
Beginn des
Passahfestes
First Day of Passover 
GründonnerstagMaundy ThursdayThursday before Easter
From Latin mandatum in the prayer for Christ's washing of the feet of the disciples on the Thursday before Easter.
KarfreitagGood FridayFriday before Easter
Ostern
Ostersonntag*
Easter
Easter Sunday
On the first Sunday following the first full moon of spring
Ostern / Easter
Ostermontag*Easter MondayA public holiday in Germany and most of Europe
Weißer
Sonntag
Low SundayFirst Sunday after Easter
Date of first communion in the Catholic church
MuttertagMother's DaySecond Sunday in May**
Muttertag / Mother's Day
  **In Germany, if Mother's Day happens to fall on Pfingstsonntag (Pentecost), the date changes to the first Sunday in May.
Christi
Himmelfahrt
Ascension Day
(of Jesus to heaven)
A public holiday; 40 days after Easter (see Vatertag below)
Father's DayOn Ascension Day in Germany. Not the same as the U.S. family-oriented Father's Day. In Austria, it's in June.
PfingstenPentecost,
Whitsun,
Whit Sunday
A public holiday; the 7th Sun. after Easter. In some German states Pfingsten is a 2-week school holiday.
PfingstmontagWhit MondayA public holiday
Pfingsten / Pentecost
FronleichnamCorpus ChristiA public holiday in Austria and Catholic parts of Germany, Switzerland; Thursday following Trinity Sunday (the Sunday after Pentecost)
OCTOBER - NOVEMBER - DEZEMBER
VolkstrauertagNational Day
of Mourning
In November on the Sunday two weeks prior to the first Advent Sunday. In memory of Nazi victims and the dead in both world wars. Similar to Veteran's Day or Memorial Day in the US.
Buß- und
Bettag
Day of Prayer and RepentanceThe Wed. eleven days prior to the first Advent Sunday. A holiday in some regions only.
TotensonntagMourning SundayObserved in November on the Sunday prior to the first Advent Sunday. The Protestant version of All Soul's Day.
Erster AdventFirst Sunday of AdventThe four-week Advent period leading up to Christmas is an important part of the German celebration.
For Christmas and New Year's vocabulary see our English-German Christmas and Silvester Glossary.
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Flippo, Hyde. "A Calendar of German Holidays and Customs - German-English." ThoughtCo, Aug. 2, 2016, thoughtco.com/german-holidays-and-customs-4069407. Flippo, Hyde. (2016, August 2). A Calendar of German Holidays and Customs - German-English. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/german-holidays-and-customs-4069407 Flippo, Hyde. "A Calendar of German Holidays and Customs - German-English." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/german-holidays-and-customs-4069407 (accessed November 18, 2017).