How do you Imagine a German Valentine's Day?

The celebrations of love and craziness are in the same month. Coincidence?

Two Fish and Bubble Heart
Happy Valentine's Day. CSA Images-Vetta@getty-images

German Customs in February-Part 2: Valentine’s Day - Fasching/Karneval

Traditional and Religious Celebrations and Customs

  • Groundhog Day (Mariä Lichtmess)
  • Valentinstag (Valentine's Day)
  • Mardi Gras: Fastnacht/Fasching/Karneval

Valentinstag (14. Februar)

Sankt Valentin and the lovers' celebration in his name are not traditionally German, but in recent years Valentinstag has become increasingly popular in Germany. Originally celebrated mainly in France and the English-speaking countries, it is now common to see Valentine cards and other signs of the holiday in Germany. This trend was most likely "forced upon" the Germans by an increased effort to the florist-industry. Be gentle to your German lover should he not take this day seriously. German men possibly prefer to buy you flowers rather for no reason than when they are being expected to. If they buy flowers at all.

The origins of Valentine's Day

The origins of both the man known as Valentinus and the celebration itself are obscure. Little is known about the Roman (or Romans) who may have been a bishop in Terni or a priest in Rome. Although several legends have arisen around the Christian martyr Valentinus, there is no historical evidence that connects him to lovers or today's Feb. 14 Valentine celebration. As in the case of other Christian celebrations, Valentine's Day is more likely based on the pagan Roman fertility festival called Lupercalia that took place in mid-February. The Lupercalia only ended in 495 when it was banned by the pope.

Did you know that Valentine's Day is actually forbidden in Saudi Arabia?

Fastnacht/Fasching (date varies) 

The German Mardi Gras or Carnival celebration goes by many names: FastnachtFaschingFasnachtFasnetKarneval. This is a movable feast (=beweglicher Festtag) that is related to Easter and does not occur on the same date each year. (For the dates this year, see Die fünfte Jahreszeit.) The culmination of the Fastenzeit (=Lent) is always on the Tuesday (fat Tuesday = mardi gras, Shrove Tuesday) before Aschermittwoch (=Ash Wednesday). The official start of the Fasching season is either on January 7 (the day after Ephiphany, Dreikönige) or on the 11th day of the 11th month (Nov. 11, Elfter im Elften), depending on the region.

A highlight before the main highlight, the Rosenmontag, is the so called Weiberfastnacht (=Fat Thursday, also in certain regions in Germany it's called "Fetter Donnerstag") celebrated on the Thursday before Karneval. The tradition is that the women cut of the tie of any man who dears to wear one that day. Should you fancy your ties, make sure to have a cheap one in your wardrobe for this occasion. In regions where Karneval is celebrated the most, you might witness a bunch of women storming the local Rathaus (=town hall) in order to cut off the men's ties. You certainly understand what a man's tie symbolises, right?


The Rosenmontag is the main celebration day of Carnival. That day there will be a huge parade marching through the city unless you live in Berlin or the northern parts of Germany. We are possibly not as "jeck" (=nuts) as those southerners or simply have to drive out less demons than them. For those who miss all this "kunterbunt" trouble in Berlin, there's a little refuge for those from the Rhine region here in Berlin, the "Ständige Vertretung". You might want to check it out next time you are in Berlin.

Find out more about other Celebrations and Customs here. 

NEXT ARTICLE > Holidays in March

Original article by: Hyde Flippo

Edited on the 28th of June 2015 by: Michael Schmitz