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Entries about churches

Weißer Sonntag - "White Sunday"


Weißer Sonntag is not to be mixed up with Whitsunday (Pentecost, Pfingsten). It is the first Sunday after Easter when the catholic parishes traditionally celebrate the first Holy Communion of the nine year olds. After a year of lessons the children are blessed and admitted to communion for the first time during a festive mass. As they are dressed up in white robes for this occasion, the day has been named the "white" Sunday.

A kid's Kommunion requires a family reunion and a festive lunch after church. In case you plan to visit a restaurant that day with a larger party, make a reservation well in advance - 40 Kommunionkinder in a parish mean 40 families booking all better restaurants in the surroundings solid.

The Protestant churches have their confirmation celebrations in spring, too, but dates vary.

Posted by Kathrin_E 11:02 Archived in Germany Tagged churches germany events holidays traditions customs Comments (0)

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 Comments (0)

Pfingsten - Pentecost/Whitsunday


Pfingsten is celebrated on the 50th day after Easter and marks the coming of the Holy Spirit and is the birthday of the worldwide church. Unlike Christmas and Easter there are no traditions on Pentecost which are common all over the country. To most people this is nothing but a welcome long weekend - note that Whitmonday is a public holiday. The schools will close for a week or two and the time around Ascension and Pentecost is a busy travel time.

Some rural areas have their local customs. The best known is the presentation of a Pfingstochse (Pentecost ox) - on this day the cattle is sent out to pasture for the first time and the strongest animal is decorated with a straw wreath, flowers and ribbons. "Frilly as a Pfingstochse" has become proverbial for a person who has dressed up too much and without taste.

The peony (Pfingstrose) is a typical and popular garden flower that blooms around Pentecost.

Posted by Kathrin_E 11:09 Archived in Germany Tagged churches germany events holidays traditions customs Comments (0)

Ewigkeitssonntag - Eternity Sunday


The last Sunday of the church year, five weeks before Christmas, is celebrated as memorial day for the defunct in the Protestant churches. The older name was Totensonntag (Sunday of the Dead). It is respected as a statewide holiday. Christmas markets usually open during the week after Eternity Sunday; those few that start earlier have to stay closed on that day. Dancing and similar are not allowed.

In Sunday service the names of all those members of the community who died during the previous year are read aloud and a candle is lit for each of them. Afterwards a commemoration is held in the cemetery.

Eternity Sunday is the end of the church year, thus also the end of this blog. We have completed the cycle of one year. On the following weekend it starts all over again with the First Advent Sunday. So please start reading again from the beginning ;-)

Posted by Kathrin_E 01:24 Archived in Germany Tagged churches germany holidays traditions customs Comments (0)

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