Festivals and Holidays

New Years in Germany

The year's first public holiday arrives on 1 January (New Year's Day). This is the time when the New Year's resolutions begin: How long will the diet work? Do you really go running every day? New Year's Eve is not a public holiday, but it is the last day of the year and ends with fireworks at midnight to say farewell to the past year and hello to the new one.

German Holidays of Christian Origin

Christmas Market in Cologne

Many festivals and holidays in Germany are of Christian origin. The most important ones are Christmas and Easter. Christmas is usually celebrated with the family at home. On Christmas Eve (Heiligabend) families get together around the decorated Christmas tree, exchange presents and celebrate the birth of Christ. In the weeks leading up to Easter, chocolate bunnies and eggs can be seen (and bought) in shops everywhere. Part of the tradition is to hide the eggs away for the children to find. Easter is the time when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Overview of important German national public holidays:

  • New Year’s Day (1 January)
  • Good Friday (Friday before Easter)
  • Easter Monday
  • 1 May (Labour Day) – often accompanied by May Fires
  • Ascension
  • Whit Monday
  • The Day of German Unity (3 October)
  • Christmas Eve on 24 December is not a public holiday. But shops do shut in the afternoon, so that the celebrations can begin.
  • Christmas Day and Boxing Day (25/26 December) are public holidays

Shops, offices, agencies, schools and universities are closed on public holidays and Sundays.

International festivals and holidays

However, Germany has become a multicultural country. So, it can come as no surprise that the nationals of other countries living in Germany also celebrate their festivals and holidays. Turks, Greeks, Italians, Poles, Russians, Croatians and Spaniards, Arabs, Brits, Americans, and Australians, the French, Koreans and many more all have their special festivals and holidays and celebrate these together with Germans and other nationals.