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Totensonntag (Sunday of the Dead), also called Ewigkeitssonntag (Eternity Sunday) is a German religious holiday observed mainly in Lutheran churches.


In 1816, King Frederick William III of Prussia made his cabinet pass a decree that stated all Lutheran churches in the areas under Prussian rule had to observe the last Sunday before Advent as a "general celebration in memorial of the deceased".[1] Other churches outside of Prussia followed, eventually, as well.

In the United States, some Protestant churches celebrate this service of remembrance as "Totenfest."[2] It often coincides with celebration of All Saints Day.

Special protection[edit]

Totensonntag is a protected holiday in all German states. The holiday laws of all federal states, with the exception of Hamburg, have special provisions, classifying Totensonntag either as a memorial day or a "silent day" which implies special restrictions.[3] Depending on the state, music may not be played in public venues or only at certain hours, and dancing is forbidden as well (German: Tanzverbot).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ RGG, 3. Aufl.; Band VI Spalte 957
  2. ^ "Totenfest.", accessed 2013-11-20
  3. ^ "§ 2(1)III Gesetz über Sonntage, Feiertage, Gedenktage und Trauertage vom 16. Oktober 1953" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-11-21. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Bieritz, Karl-Heinrich (2005). Das Kirchenjahr. Feste, Gedenk- und Feiertage in Geschichte und Gegenwart. Beck’sche Reihe (in German) 447 (Fourth ed.). München: Beck. ISBN 3-406-47585-X.