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Expat in Germany: Public Holidays in Germany

Monday, November 1, 2010

Public Holidays in Germany

Public holidays in Germany are very confusing.  Today, November 1st is a public holiday in Germany, but when I asked J.P. what the holiday was for his response was "some Catholic holiday" (no disrespect to Catholics intended).  It turns out that today is All Saints Day, a day in which Catholics pray for Christian saints. 
Candle lighting is part of the service for All Saints Day, a public holiday in Germany in 5 states that are predominantly Catholic
Tomorrow, November 2nd is All Souls Day, another Catholic holiday in which Catholics pray for loved ones who have passed on, and visit grave sites, but it is not a public holiday in Germany.  I'm not sure why it this is not a public holiday in Germany as it would seem to apply to everyone, regardless of your religion.  To further confuse matters, some Protestants celebrate All Saints Day, so I don’t know how that works when it's a Catholic holiday.  J.P. was baptized Protestant but he wasn't sure either so if anyone can shed light on this, please let me know.

Also confusing about public holidays in Germany is that many of them are not national public holidays.  All Saints Day is a public holiday in Germany only in 5 out of 16 states, those that are predominantly Catholic.  But when I asked J.P. which 5 states he could only list 2, Baden Würrtemberg (the state where we live) and Bavaria.  For the record, the other 3 are: Rheinland-Pfalz, Nordrhein-Westfalen and Saarland.  Similarly, there are Protestant public holidays in Germany that are only celebrated in states that are predominantly Protestant.  I was rather baffled so I asked J.P. how Germans keep track of all the public holidays in Germany and how Germans know which public holidays in Germany apply to their state; his response was “we look at a calendar".  I think this is my cue to stop asking him questions he can't answer about public holidays in Germany, but I feel somewhat relieved, if a German doesn't know so much about public holidays in Germany, surely it's understandable why I'm so confused. 



At November 1, 2010 at 2:40 PM , Blogger GutsyWriter said...

Just found your blog via a comment you left on a travel blog. I was wondering if you're planning on writing a book about a Canadian falling in love with a German. I'm reading so many books about Americans and Australians and Brits falling in love with French men. It would be a different type of book. I saw you met in Costa Rica. My family lived in Belize for a year.

At November 1, 2010 at 8:22 PM , Anonymous inka said...

I love to follow this blog as I am a German living abroad. A bit of indulging in nostalgia through your posts. Keep them coming.

At November 1, 2010 at 8:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


You certainly learn more about places when you move there rather than just visiting. You'll have to let us know about the German customs around Christmas and giving presents. Thanks for sharing.


At November 2, 2010 at 12:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

That certainly does sound confusing. I'm Halloween very popular over there?

At November 3, 2010 at 11:24 AM , Blogger Expat in Germany said...

GustyWriter - thanks for your vote of confidence. I would love to write a book and we met shark diving no less, so it's quite the story, maybe one day :). Great that you lived in Belize. I was there for a month studying monkeys and enjoyed it.

Thanks inka, I appreciate it, especially from someone who is German. Please keep me in line if I get anything wrong :)

Christian, agreed and I can't wait to celebrate Christmas here. Germany is famous for its Christmas markets.

Anonymous - Halloween isn't very popular here, but it's becoming more popular. Unfortunately for the kids though there's no trick or treating, just the odd Halloween party.

At November 9, 2010 at 7:07 AM , Anonymous Jodie said...

I was quite surprised that I didn't get any trick or treaters this year actually. As the big train station near me was all decorated for Halloween for the children but it doesn't seem to be that big of a deal in Austria either... Very bizarre!

At November 13, 2010 at 9:10 PM , Anonymous jersuji said...

Oh, only 5 states are predominantly Catholic?
If so, I guess that many in Germany didn't hold the ceremony on November 1.
Am I right?


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