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Himmelfahrt/Vatertag - Ascension/Fathers Day

The Ascension of Christ is celebrated 39 days after Easter and 10 days before Pentecost, so it is always on a Thursday. It is a public holiday in the whole of Germany, meaning that shops are closed and public transport operates on Sunday/holiday schedule. Ascension takes place in May or early June at the beginning of the summery season when everyone wants to be outdoors, weather permitting.

Since the mothers have had their holiday shortly before, it is only fair to grant the fathers a special day, too. However, the fathers are not treated to gifts, breakfast in bed and lunch or dinner at a fancy restaurant. Instead their wives and families give the men a day off to go on tour with their mates and do what men are said to like best: drink and be merry.

A traditional fathers day tour involves a group of men, not all of them necessarily fathers, going for a hike, accompanied by a barrel of beer on a cart and sufficient supply of stronger booze. The final destination of the hike is usually some country pub or beer garden. Old-fashioned hats and singing to the sound of a musical instrument are optional.

This is the cliché and it is still done by some. In case you are travelling Germany on Himmelfahrt and meet such groups of drunk guys, don't panic - they are noisy but harmless. Most of them do this only once a year, on Vatertag, and in the evening they return home worn out and rueful with a bunch of flowers to pacify their wives...

Women and kids won't stay home all day either. There are also many mixed groups around. Families as well as clubs, circles of friends etc. do hiking or biking tours, picknicks, camping etc. Many people take Friday off, so the long weekend is peak travel time. Expect local trains, roads and parking lots, pubs and beer gardens, parks and hiking trails and similar to be crowded. The long weekend is also popular for city trips and other short travels.

Posted by Kathrin_E 11:08 Archived in Germany Tagged churches germany events holidays traditions customs

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