A Calendar of German Holidays and Customs - German-English

A Calendar of Holidays in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland

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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

Feiertag Holiday Datum/Date
Neujahr* New Year's Day 1. 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.
Mariä
Lichtmess
Candlemas
(Groundhog Day)
2. Februar (am zweiten Feb.)
Catholic regions
Valentinstag Valentine's Day 14. 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
Day of the Ill am ersten Sonntag im März (first Sunday in March; only in Switzerland)
International Women's Day 8. März (am achten März)
Josephstag St. Joseph's Day 19. März (am neunzehnten März; only in parts of Switzerland)
Mariä
Verkündigung
Annunciation 25. März (am fünfundzwanzigsten März)
Erster April April Fool's Day 1. April (am ersten April)
Karfreitag* Good Day Friday before Easter; see Movable Feasts
Ostern Easter Ostern falls in March or April, depending on the year; see Movable Feasts
Walpurgisnacht Walpurgis Night 30. April (am dreißigsten April) in Germany (Harz). Witches (Hexen) gather on eve of St. Walpurga's feast day (May Day).
Erster Mai*
Tag der Arbeit
May Day
Labor Day
1. Mai (am ersten Mai)
Muttertag Mother's Day 2nd Sunday in May
(Austria, Germany, Switz.)
Father's Day 12. Juni 2005
2nd Sunday in June
(Austria only; diff. date in Germany)
Johannistag St. John the Baptist's Day 24. Juni (am vierundzwanzigsten Juni)
Siebenschläfer St. Swithin's Day 27. Juni (am siebenundzwanzigsten Juni) Folklore: If it rains on this day it will rain for the next seven weeks. A Siebenschläfer is a dormouse.
Feiertag Holiday Datum/Date
Gedenktag des Attentats auf Hitler 1944** Commemorative day of the assassination attempt on Hitler in 1944 20. Juli - Germany
National-
feiertag
*
Swiss National Day 1. August (am ersten Aug.)
Celebrated with fireworks
Mariä
Himmelfahrt
Assumption 15. August
Michaelis (das)
der Michaelistag
Michaelmas (Feast of St. Michael the Archangel) 29. September (am neunundzwangzigsten Sept.)
Oktoberfest
München
Oktoberfest - Munich Two-week celebration beginning in late Sept. and ending on the first Sunday in October.
Erntedankfest German Thanksgiving End of September or early October; not an official holiday
Tag der
deutschen
Einheit
*
Day of German Unity 3. 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.
Halloween Halloween 31. Oktober (am einunddreißigsten Okt.) Halloween is not a traditional German celebration, but in recent years it has become increasingly popular in Austria and Germany.
Allerheiligen All Saints' Day 1. November (am ersten Nov.)
Allerseelen All Souls' Day 2. November (am zweiten Nov.)
Martinstag Martinmas 11. 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.
Nikolaustag St. Nicholas Day 6. 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 Conception 8. Dezember (am achten Dez.)
Heiligabend Christmas Eve 24. Dezember (am vierundzwanzigsten Dez.) - This is when German children receive their presents (die Bescherung) around the Christmas tree (der Tannenbaum).
Weihnachten* Christmas Day 25. Dezember (am fünfundzwanzigsten Dez.).
Zweiter
Weihnachtstag
*
Second Day of Christmas 26. Dezember (am sechsundzwanzigsten Dez.). Known as Stephanstag, St. Stephen's Day, in Austria.
Silvester New Year's Eve 31. Dezember (am einunddreißigsten Dez.).

Movable Holidays with No Fixed DateMovable Feasts | Bewegliche Feste

Feiertag Holiday Datum/Date
Schmutziger
Donnerstag
Weiberfastnacht
Dirty Thursday

Women's Carnival
Last Thursday of Fasching/Karneval when women traditionally snip off men's ties
Rosenmontag Rose Monday Date 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)
Aschermittwoch Ash Wednesday End of the Carnival season; start of Lent (Fastenzeit)
Palmsonntag Palmsunday Sunday before Easter (Ostern)
Beginn des
Passahfestes
First Day of Passover
Gründonnerstag Maundy Thursday Thursday before Easter
From Latin mandatum in the prayer for Christ's washing of the feet of the disciples on the Thursday before Easter.
Karfreitag Good Friday Friday before Easter
Ostern
Ostersonntag*
Easter
Easter Sunday
On the first Sunday following the first full moon of spring
Ostermontag* Easter Monday A public holiday in Germany and most of Europe
Weißer
Sonntag
Low Sunday First Sunday after Easter
Date of first communion in the Catholic church
Muttertag Mother's Day Second Sunday in May**
Christi
Himmelfahrt
Ascension Day
(of Jesus to heaven)
A public holiday; 40 days after Easter (see Vatertag below)
Father's Day On Ascension Day in Germany. Not the same as the U.S. family-oriented Father's Day. In Austria, it's in June.
Pfingsten Pentecost,
Whitsun,
Whit Sunday
A public holiday; the 7th Sun. after Easter. In some German states Pfingsten is a 2-week school holiday.
Pfingstmontag Whit Monday A public holiday
Fronleichnam Corpus Christi A public holiday in Austria and Catholic parts of Germany, Switzerland; Thursday following Trinity Sunday (the Sunday after Pentecost)
Volkstrauertag National 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 Repentance The Wed. eleven days prior to the first Advent Sunday. A holiday in some regions only.
Totensonntag Mourning Sunday Observed in November on the Sunday prior to the first Advent Sunday. The Protestant version of All Soul's Day.
Erster Advent First Sunday of Advent The four-week Advent period leading up to Christmas is an important part of the German celebration.