Public holidays in Germany

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By law, "the Sundays and the public holidays remain protected as days of rest from work and of spiritual elevation" (Art. 139 WRV, part of the German constitution via Art. 140 GG). Thus all Sundays are, in a manner, public holidays – but usually not understood by the term "holiday" (except for, normally, Easter Sunday and Pentecost Sunday).

Public holidays apart from the Sundays (there must be some of them constitutionally) can be declared by law by either the Federation or the Länder for their respective jurisdictions. By federal law, only the German Unity Day is made a holiday at present (Unity Treaty, Art. 2 sect. 2); the others, even the ones celebrated all over Germany, are made holidays by state legislation.

List by state[edit]

Holiday Local name (in German) Date Baden-Württemberg BW Bavaria BY Berlin BE Brandenburg BB Bremen (state) HB Hamburg HH Hesse HE Mecklenburg-Vorpommern MV Lower Saxony NI North Rhine-Westphalia NW Rhineland-Palatinate RP Saarland SL Saxony SN Saxony-Anhalt ST Schleswig-Holstein SH Thuringia TH
New Year's Day Neujahrstag 1 January
Epiphany Heilige Drei Könige 6 January
International Women's Day[1] Internationaler Frauentag 8 March
Good Friday Karfreitag Easter Sunday – 2d
Easter Monday Ostermontag Easter Sunday + 1d
Labour Day Tag der Arbeit 1 May
Ascension Day Christi Himmelfahrt Easter Sunday + 39d
Whit Monday Pfingstmontag[2] Easter Sunday + 50d
Corpus Christi Fronleichnam Easter Sunday + 60d [a] [b]
Augsburg Peace Festival Augsburger Friedensfest 8 August [c]
Assumption Day Mariä Himmelfahrt 15 August [d][e]
World Children's Day Weltkindertag 20 September [f][3]
German Unity Day Tag der Deutschen Einheit 3 October
Reformation Day[g] Reformationstag 31 October [h][4] [h][5] [h][6] [h][7]
All Saints' Day Allerheiligen 1 November
Repentance and Prayer Day[i] Buß- und Bettag Wednesday before Totensonntag [e]
Christmas Day Weihnachtstag 25 December
Second Day of Christmas Zweiter Weihnachtsfeiertag 26 December
Total number of holidays per state[j] 12 13 10 10 10 10 10 11 10 11 11 12 11 11 10 11[f]

Notes[edit]

✔ – Public holiday is celebrated in that state.

  1. ^ Public holiday only in few Sorbian communities.
  2. ^ Public holiday only in the Catholic district of Eichsfeld.
  3. ^ Public holiday only in the city of Augsburg.
  4. ^ Public holiday only in approx. 1700 communities with predominantly Catholic population and in the cities of Augsburg and Munich.
  5. ^ a b Schools are closed all over the state on that day.
  6. ^ a b From 2019 onwards.
  7. ^ One-time public holiday in all states, including those not normally observing Reformation Day, to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d Four states adopted the Reformation Day as permanent holiday starting in 2018 (Bremen, Hamburg, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein (see table for references)).
  9. ^ Public holiday in all states until 1994. The holiday was discontinued with introduction of nursing care insurance. Saxony is the only state where employers do not have to pay for nursing care insurance (paid by employees in that state) and where the holiday is still kept.
  10. ^ For states where some holidays are not observed uniformly all over the state, such holidays are included in the state's total number of holidays if their celebration is predominant and widespread in that state:

In addition, the state of Brandenburg formally declared Easter Sunday and Pentecost Sunday as public holidays. As these are Sundays anyway, they have been left out by the other states, nor counted in the table above (the state of Hesse even declared all Sundays public holidays).

Germany-wide observed holidays from 2024 to 2029[edit]

  • New Year's Day (Jan 01)

2024: Mon 2025: Wed 2026: Thur 2027: Fri 2028: Sat 2029: Mon

  • Easter: Good Friday + Easter Monday

2024: Mar 29 + Apr 01 2025: Apr 18 + Apr 21 2026: Apr 03 + Apr 06 2027: Mar 26 + Mar 29 2028: Apr 14 + Apr 17 2029: Mar 30 + Apr 02

  • Labor Day (May 01)

2024: Wed 2025: Thur 2026: Fri 2027: Sat 2028: Mon 2029: Tue

  • Ascension Day (Thur)

2024: May 09 2025: May 29 2026: May 14 2027: May 06 2028: May 25 2029: May 10

  • Pentecost: Whit Monday

2024: May 20 2025: Jun 09 2026: May 25 2027: May 17 2028: Jun 06 2029: May 21

  • German Unity Day (Oct 03)

2024: Thur 2025: Fri 2026: Sat 2027: Sun 2028: Tue 2029: Wed

  • Christmas (Dec 25+26)

2024: Wed + Thur 2025: Thur + Fri 2026: Fri + Sat 2027: Sat + Sun 2028: Mon + Tue 2029: Tue + Wed

Quiet days[edit]

A couple of days are designated stille Tage (quiet days) by state legislation, which regularly means that public dancing events, music at inns (if live or if not much quieter than usual) etc. are prohibited.

Some public holidays are quiet days:

  • Good Friday
  • Prayer and Repentance Day (where it is a public holiday and in a couple of other states)
  • All Saints (where it is a public holiday)

One de facto public holiday (not determined by law, because it is always on a Sunday, but with officially organized celebrations) is a quiet day:

One other Sunday is a quiet day:

  • Totensonntag (the German-Protestant equivalent of All Souls Day), on the last Sunday of the ecclesiastical year

Some days may be quiet days without being public holidays:

  • Christmas Eve (beginning in the afternoon, in some states)
  • Ash Wednesday (in Bavaria)
  • Holy Thursday (in some states; in some of them beginning in the evening)
  • Holy Saturday (in some states)
  • All Souls' Day (in Lower Saxony and the Saarland)

In a limited number of cases – apart from All Saints which, however, has long been associated in popular understanding with remembrance of the dead. The status of quiet days is also given to festivities joyous in nature: in Hesse, the highest Christian holidays are half-quiet days (until midday) and in Rhineland-Palatinate, Easter Sunday and Christmas Day are two-thirds-quiet days (until 16 o'clock). For details see the German article on the dancing ban.

Flag days[edit]

A yet third category that may sometimes be called "holidays" in a sense are the "flag days" (Beflaggungstage). Only the very highest institutions and the military use the national flags at every day, so the directives when flags are to be displayed mark the days in question as special.

Flags are to be shown by Federal Decree on

and by state decrees on other days, such as election days for state parliaments, state constitution days, anniversary of the election of the Federal President (in Berlin) and so forth.

Frequently flags are ordered ad hoc to be shown at half-mast in cases of national mourning.

Unofficial holidays[edit]

Either Carnival Monday ("Rosenmontag") or Mardi Gras is a de facto holiday in some towns and cities in Catholic western and southern Germany which have a strong Carnival tradition.

Also, Christmas Eve is developing into a semi-holiday: from mid-afternoon it is practically treated as a holiday, and while shops still open in the morning, for other businesses (apart from those that work even on holidays) this is becoming increasingly unusual; schools are closed in any case.

Customs about holidays[edit]

Ascension Day (Christi Himmelfahrt) and Corpus Christi (Fronleichnam) are both always on Thursdays. By taking only one day's leave, employees can have a four-day weekend.

The Three Kings Day, better known as Epiphany, is 6 January, the day after the 12 days of Christmas. In parts of Germany, it has its own local customs.

Public holidays in the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany)[edit]

Holiday Local name Date Remarks
New Year Neujahr 1 January
Good Friday Karfreitag Easter Sunday – 2d
Easter Monday Ostermontag Easter Sunday + 1d until 1967 and in 1990
Labour Day Internationaler Kampf- und Feiertag
der Werktätigen für Frieden und Sozialismus
1 May
Liberation Day Tag der Befreiung 8 May until 1967 and in 1985
Victory Day Tag des Sieges 9 May only in 1975
Ascension Day Christi Himmelfahrt Easter Sunday + 39d until 1967 and in 1990
Whit Monday Pfingstmontag Easter Sunday + 50d
Day of the Republic Tag der Republik 7 October
Reformation Day Reformationstag 31 October until 1966
Day of Repentance and Prayer Buß- und Bettag Wed. before 23 November until 1966
Christmas Day 1. Weihnachtsfeiertag 25 December
St Stephen's Day / Boxing Day 2. Weihnachtsfeiertag 26 December

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Frauentag wird gesetzlicher Feiertag". berlin.de (in German). 11 February 2019. Archived from the original on 18 June 2021. Retrieved 2 January 2023.
  2. ^ https://uol.de/internationalisierung-zu-hause/termin/termin/pfingstmontag-feiertag-in-deutschland
  3. ^ "Thüringen bekommt neuen Feiertag". 28 February 2019.
  4. ^ Weser-Kurier. "Reformationstag wird Feiertag in Bremen" (in German). Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  5. ^ NDR (28 February 2018). "Hamburg hat einen neuen Feiertag" (in German). Archived from the original on 3 February 2019.
  6. ^ NDR (19 June 2018). "Beschlossen: Reformationstag wird neuer Feiertag" (in German). Archived from the original on 9 July 2018. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  7. ^ "Schleswig-Holstein hat einen neuen Feiertag" (in German). NDR. 22 February 2018. Archived from the original on 3 February 2019. Retrieved 24 February 2018.