Public Holiday in Germany
The First of April:
Since the 17th century there are the April jokes in Germany. Until today there is the tradition to make fun of somebody on this day. Examples for April jokes are to tell somebody to get something impossible like “dried snow” or “duck milk”.
Ascension Day (in German it is called Christi Himmelfahrt):
The Christs are celebrating the Ascension Day 40 Days after Easter. This day excists since the 4th century. It’s based on the Bible namely on the part when Jesus ascented to heaven infront of his disciples. The day is celebrated in churches with a prayer service or in forests or on mountains. If the Ascension Day happens to be on a Thursday, it’s a legal holiday.
It is is often accompanied by church parades in wineyards and fields where the believers pray for a good harvest.
Many Germans know this day only as Father’s Day nowadays. The men go out and drink often on this day or they have a party with some alcohol. They also meet for bike tours or go bowling together.
The first day of school in Germany and the graduation
The first day
The most of the pupils are 6 years old when they start going to school. Sometimes the pupils already start going to school with 5 years. Before they may go to school, they have to pass a test which decides if they are ready for school. When they are at school, they first are assigned to a class and their class teacher. On their first day, they do not really a real lesson. They get to know their class, their class teacher and their school. After the school day the whole family celebrate the first school day for example with a dinner.
Traditions on the first day of school
One of the traditions is the school cone. The school cone is a cylindrical bag filled with sweets, presents, books and fruits. You can tinker a school cone by yourself and you can also buy a school cone.
In Germany there are four scopes of graduations:
⦁ “Abitur” (the A-Level)
⦁ advanced technical certificate
⦁ secondary school certificate
⦁ secondary modern school qualification
After the “Abitur” you can make a training for a job you want to do in the future, you can go abroad or you can study at university.
After the secondary school certificate you can also make the “Abitur” or you can also do a training.
After the secondary modern school qualification you can do a voluntary work experience or a training.
For every graduations you have to take exams.
Today's customs for the birthday
Many of the traditional customs exist until now but their meaning has partially changed.
The birthday calls the anniversary of the birth or the actual day of the birth of a person. With the first birthday the first anniversary of the birth is meant.
A widespread custom is to celebrate his birthday with friends and relatives. With children are usual in addition to the celebration with related child birthdays. Another very widespread birthday custom is to decorate a cake or a cake with the exactly number corresponding to the birthday in candles.
It is usual to congratulate a person for the birthday or to sing a little birthday song. One of the best known is the English song “happy Birthday”. Should it not be possible to congratulate personally, it is usual to transmit a birthday greeting by post, telephone call, e-mail or SMS message. Special birthdays are the day of the majority or round birthdays (e.g., 40., 50., 75., …) which are celebrated in different versions depending of the region or the friends.
One uses the name Birthday often also falsely for jubilee.
For the person who has birthday, the gifts are probably the most important thing. The present are usually wrapped in colorful paper. Today especially money gifts are liked very much.
Many birthday kids can wish a cake from her mother for the birthday. This birthday cake is mostly decorated with candles which symbolize the age of the child. If the birthday child can blow out all the candles in one time, he can wish something and it became true.
However, what would be cake and birthday presents without party on which one can present them. In many areas the birthday is celebrated twice, once with the family and another day with friends. Adults also celebrate with pleasure in the birthday, speak them already celebrate in the evening and stumble at 24 o'clock on the “birthday child”.
Day of the German unity
The 3rd October is the Day of German Unity, and thus the most important holiday for the whole of Germany. Of the People's Chamber of the 23rd August 1990 decided on accession of the GDR was the scope of the Basic Law under Article 23 of the Basic Law on 29 September 1990.Thus lay before the legal requirement for the reunion. Its formal completion of the process of reunification took place a week later on 3 October 1990, the official accession of the GDR to the Federal Republic. On 3 October 2012 Germany will celebrate the National Day on 22 The GDR times so I stopped to exist.This was not only a turning point for Germany, this was the end of the Cold War and Europe has grown together. After 45 years of separation, the political unity was restored.At the same time since then Berlin, state and capital of a united Germany, reunified and freed from the occupation statute.
At its roots, several hundred years ago, Halloween was the autumn celebration of the druids of the old England.
Those people believed that this was the only night in a year where witches and ghosts were haunting the people on earth.
Almost every child knows that Halloween is something about witches, ghosts and dressing up, but almost no one knows the real roots of this tradition.
Over 2 000 years ago the Celts in England were celebrating a huge party at the end of summer. This event was called “Samhain”.
The 31st of October was the last day of the celtic calendar on which they were saying goodbye to the summer and welcoming the winter.
They were thanking their god of sun for the harvest and also thought of the souls of the deceased.
This god of sun (called ‘Samhain’) was now replaced by their death god who was responsible for the dark time of the year.
The Celts believed that the souls of the deceased were returning to their houses in the night of the 31st October. The ghosts and homeless souls that couldn’t find their old homes despite the fires that were lit for them were desperately searching and not finding their way and so scared innocent people.
Some centuries later, roughly 800 years a.D., the pope was making the first of November (the day after the 31st of October) the christian holiday “Allerheiligen”.
So the Samhain day was made the day before “Allerheiligen”, in English ‘All Hallows’ Evening” or short “Hallows’ E’en”. By now we are saying Halloween. Even if the Samhain feast is already history for a long time, the children are still disguising themselves as creepy creatures like ghosts, witches, wizards or vampires to repulse those evil souls.
The advent season, like we know it today, harks back to the 7th century. It’s a time, in which the Christendom prepares itself for Christmas. The Christians think of the birth of Christi and celebrate it as the humanization of god. Likewise the advent reminds, that the Christians shall wait for the second coming of Jesus Christ. With the first Sunday of the advent season is also the beginning of the new church year.
In Germany it is tradition, that the parents give a calendar for 24 days to their children, which shall shorten the waiting time to Christmas. It has got 24 little doors, of which one is opened every day. There’s a little gift behind every door, often Christmassy chocolate figures. The first door is opened on the first December, the last at the 24th December.
It is also tradition to have a Christmassy designed wreath at home, in which 4 candles are arranged in a circle. There are also modern versions for example with different candle sizes or candles arranged in a different way (For example in a line). At the 4 Sundays before Christmas one candle per Sunday is inflamed, so on Christmas all candles are inflamed. The origin of the Advent wreath is in the heathen. It was invented by J.H. Wichern in 1839 to make it possible for the children to count the days until Christmas. The circular form should discourage evil ghosts. The fresh green of the wreaths represent fertility and blessing. Originally the wreath had 23 candles: 4 big ones, which represented the Advent Sundays and 19 little ones for the days between them.
Traditional sweets in the Advent season
In the Advent season sweet dishes and pastries are popular. A variety of Christmassy sweets is available in the supermarkets, but it’s also popular to bake on your own. The most popular sweets are cookies (vanilla crescents, cookies made of short pastry, spritz biscuits and star-shaped cinnamon biscuits) Christmas stollen, gingerbread.
Additionally hot drinks are very popular for example: hot wine punch, fruit punch or tea.
Christmas songs and poems
Christmas songs are often sung with the whole family. The songs deal with Christmassy themes which are often in the form of poems. Their origin is in the middle Ages.
Legends about Nikolas
One from the 9th century tells about a God-fearing man who was so poor that he could give no marriage portion to his three daughters. In his desperation he knew no other advice to send the girls "to favors on the street". To prevent this, Saint Nikolas threw three pieces of gold in to the chimney of the family. They fell directly in the socks, which hung up to dry.
The Nikolas day
Saint Nikolas is in most countries not a public holiday. Yet there are some countries where the 6th December is a public holiday, for example in Spain.
The spread of Saint Nikolas
Saint Nikolas was a bishop in Turkish Myra. He was popular as merciful and very charitable: He gave away everything he owned. Whole continents, Asia, Europe and America know the bishop from Myra. In the east countries thousands of churches carry his name. In Europe Nicholas was the farthest known saint of all times. Everybody knows the holy saint Nikolas as a big man with a long white beard and a red robe. This picture of Saint Nikolas was spread in a commercial of “Coca Cola“. In the art the St. Nikolas is always represented as a bishop but with different attributes in the art: Three gold balls, three breads, three stones. Only representations can be seen with the three gold balls in the churches of the Dachau administrative district. Country saying: "if it rains to Nikolas the winter gets, gray.“
What is Christmas? Christmas is mainly about the birth of Christ, who was born into a stable before more than 2012 years from the virgin Maria. Christ is the real son of god and he had to bring peace to the whole world!
The Christmastime is a quiet and peaceful time where the whole family is together. People decorate he whole house for Christmas, they baking cookies, they play games, singing Christmas songs, eating gingerbread and everything smells of cinnamon and orange…
Just before Christmas people get a Christmas tree and decorate him with glitter bowls, switches, chains and little angels.
For normal, the people give the gifts to other people but for the tiny children the people say that the Christ Child is coming and put the gifts under the Christmas tree. Some people think that Santa Claus gives the gifts but Santa Claus is only an invention of Coca Cola.
On Christmas evening the people went into churches and pray. Sometimes there are theater groups who play the Christmas story. After the church the whole family went at home and eats the Christmas dinner. After the dinner the people can open their gifts.
Every family eats different things on Christmas; some people only make potato salad with sausage, other one cook roast, some other people search Christmas food of other countries. Mostly, there are more courses than only one. At the beginning there is maybe a soup, after the soup there is the mining meal and finally the dessert.
First and second Christmas day:
After Christmas there is the first Christmas day and he second Christmas day where the family or the friends meet for eating cake or drinking coffee ore make party. Sometimes the people go to restaurants.
The New Year's Eve
At 31.12. is the New Year's Eve. He is after 335 AD late Pope Sylvester I. named.
In his time, Christianity became the Roman state religion. Today, on this day, the shops have only until noon. In the afternoon, prepare people for many common feasts and celebrations. On the last day of the year you would like to be with others. They celebrate in a relaxed atmosphere, and by 24 clock one wishes for a Happy New Year and meets with a glass of champagne with a "Happy New Year" at. Everywhere it starts to pop at loud, and all the church bells rang. One often sees a colorful fireworks display. Around DM 150 million are spent every year for it. Previously they wanted to banish the noise and banging the evil winter spirits.
From one second to the beginning of a new year. The name of the month of January is reminiscent of the Roman god of beginnings: Janus, a god with two faces. He looks back once more and at the same time forward.
So also, many people think that time again over the old year and wondering what is the new take on it. Many people want to do things differently in the new year. They make "good intentions", but often do not last long. Others hope to ancient symbols of good luck, as the horseshoe, the four-leaf clover, lucky pig or a chimney sweep.
New Year's Day
The first day of the year has always been a public holiday. Previously we visited the families and friends. They exchanged gifts, such as New Year pastries, and wished good luck for the new year. Today they send New Year greetings often with Christmas greetings through the mail or phone calls to each other.
Otherwise you sleep longer, some take a walk or go to a New Year's New Year's Concert. A new calendar is hung. The new year has begun.
Funerals in Germany:
There are different kinds of funerals in Germany: cremation, inhumation (a burial in the earth), tree burials and burials at sea.
All German funerals start with the leave-taking from the dead person. This can take place in the churches funeral hall or at home. Then the corpse is washed, dressed and put into a coffin. (Or in the case of cremation, burned.)
Then a ritualized ceremony for remembering the dead person takes place either at a religious place e.g. church) or as a temporal remembrance ceremony where an orator or a family member speaks about the life and character of the dead person and in the case of the religious version also of parts of the holy script. There are also special burial forms like the military ceremony.
After the coffin is put into the grave and the grave is sealed, the attendants are giving the family their condolence.
The namesdays are the christian feats days of the saints the person is named after. In the past those days have been celebrated more than today and in some countries or extremely catholic regions those namedays are still almost as important as the birthday.
In Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, Lithuania, Spain, Portugal, Romania, but also outside of Europe those days are still celebrated. There the people often get presents for their namesday and the day is celebrated much more than in Germany.
First day at school:
The tradition to give the children some candy and sweets on their first day of school goes back to the early 19th century and is only done in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
In those times the children were given nuts and fruits while today they also get small items like pencils or little toys on their first day at school in a special bag, the so-called “Schultüte”.
Those bags are often hand-made by the parents but there are also lots of different types of “Schultüten” to be bought.
At their first day at school there is also a special ceremony at the primary school often also with a prayer.
In the afternoon there is always some kind of celebration with the family and friends of the child.