A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about events

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)

Fronleichnam - Corpus Christi

Flower carpets in Weingarten


Fronleichnam is a high catholic holiday, celebrated 10 days after Pentecost on the Thursday after Trinity. It honours the Eucharist. Celebrations begin with a festive mass in church, followed by a procession with the blessed sacrament which stops at certain stations where altars have been put up. Customs often involve decorations of churches and streets with flowers and green.

Some places have their special traditions. In the village of Weingarten in Baden, for example, flower carpets are made in the streets along the way of the procession (see photos). This tradition in not indigenous but has been brought there by refugees from the East after World War II. A local artist designs the pictures every year which are then made from petals and leaves.

Corpus Christi is a public holiday in the Federal States of Bayern, Baden-Württemberg, Hessen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Saarland and in the catholic parts of Thüringen and Sachsen.

Corpus Christi procession in Stuttgart

Posted by Kathrin_E 11:10 Archived in Germany Tagged germany events holidays traditions customs Comments (0)

The First Day at School


Children start primary school at the age of 6. No matter if they have attended kindergarten before or even a year in pre-school, the first day at 'real' school is a big event in their young lives and an even bigger one in the lives of their parents who are inevitably confronted with the fact that their littlies are growing up and are no toddlers any more. In recent years this has grown into a family event with grandparents, godfathers and -mothers etc. coming to visit and participate. I am somehow jealous because I do not even have a photo of my own first schoolday! I blame my mother...

For the first-years school starts one or two days later than for the older kids. Primary schools receive them with a little festive event and then distribute them to the different class groups (unless the school is very small and has only one 1st form).

On that big day the abecedarian receives a Schultüte: a big cone-shaped cardboard container filled with goodies, toys and school items to make the beginning of school sweeter. They are almost as big as the kid...
You'll see these colourful cones everywhere in the windows of stationery shops, kid suppliers and department stores over the summer. Some families also make their own, or kindergartens invite the whole group to make theirs. Decoration can be anything, from pink princess to favourite soccer club.

Posted by Kathrin_E 13:23 Archived in Germany Tagged children germany events holidays traditions customs Comments (0)

Erntedank - Thanksgiving

Erntedank baskets, brought into church by kindergarten children

Erntedank - giving thanks for the year's harvest - is celebrated on the first Sunday in October. Some wine regions, like Rheinhessen, celebrate it later, on the last Sunday in October.

Unlike Thanksgiving in the US, Erntedank is no big holiday observed by everyone. It is a mere church holiday with a special Sunday service. The (main) altar of the church is beautifully decorated with produce from fields and gardens: fruit and vegetables, grain and/or bread, flowers... People in the parish are asked to bring their offerings. Often the Kindergarten children participate in the service, carrying in little baskets with fruit and veggies and helping with the decoration.

Afterwards the food is usually given to a local old people's home or other charity for use in their kitchen.

The Americal holiday of Thanksgiving in late November is not celebrated here.

Posted by Kathrin_E 13:37 Archived in Germany Tagged germany events holidays traditions customs Comments (0)

October 3: Day of German Unity

German postage stamp of 1990, ceelebrating the reunification

October 3 is Tag der deutschen Einheit, Germany's national holiday, a rather young one. It has only been celebrated since 1990 when the DDR officially joined the Federal Repzublic of Germany.

After the peaceful revolution in autumn 1989 and the first and only democratic elections in the DDR in spring 1990, the DDR government under Lothar de Maizière declared that the DDR will join the Federal republic of Germany on October 3, 1990. Negotiations with the four allied powers and the Two-plus-Four Treaty, actually the peace treaty that finally ended the cold war, preceded.

October 3 is a public holiday. Important for travelers: shops remain closed and public transport runs on Sunday schedule. The flags are up. The day is marked with some political events and speeches. The average citizen just enjoys a day off (and secretly grieves the diasppearance of June 17 because in June the weather is likely to be better and warmer than in October).

Posted by Kathrin_E 13:38 Archived in Germany Tagged history germany events holidays Comments (0)

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