German Holidays

If your German translation mentions German holidays, then you may well need to know if these are holidays your audience will recognise and whether they are also celebrated in the English-speaking region your audience comes from.

If not, your German English translation may need a bit of glossing to give some added information. For instance, the 1st November – Allerheiligen (All Saints Day) - here in Austria is quite an important event, involving laying wreaths on graves, whereas 31st October – Halloween – is rather a non-event in German-speaking countries.

I’ve included major events which are not official German holidays, such as Rosenmontag, but you’ll usually find offices closed or understaffed on these days!

English translation/equivalent
1 January Neujahrstag New Year’s Day
2 January Bercholdstag Saint Berchtold
(Switzerland only)
6 January Heilige Drei Könige (“Holy Three Kings”)
2 February Maria Lichtmess Candlemas
(also Groundhog Day)Catholic)
14 February Valentinstag Valentine’s Day
1st Sunday in March Tag der Kranken Day of the Ill
(only Switzerland)
(Feb.- March) Rosenmontag “Rose Monday”
(start of the carnival season in Southern & Western Germany), costumed street parades, held on Collop Monday
(Feb.- March) Veilchendienstag
(“Violet Tuesday”)
A quiet day after the excesses of Rosenmontag!)
Shrove Tuesday
(Feb.- March) 46 days before Easter Ashermittwoch Ash Wednesday
(1st day of Lent)
Easter Sunday -2 daysKarfreitagGood Friday
(March/April) Ostersonntag Easter Sunday
Easter Sunday +1 day Ostermontag Easter Monday
Easter Sunday +39 days Christi Himmelfahrt Ascension Day
(Also Father’s Day in Germany)
1 May Tag der Arbeit Labor Day
Easter Sunday +50 days Pfingsten Whitsun
Easter Sunday +60 days Fronleichnam Corpus Christi/td>
2nd Sunday in May Mutter Tag Mothering Sunday
(2nd Sunday in May, Germany, Austria & Switzerland)
1st Sunday in June Vatertag Father’s Day
2nd Sunday in June Vatertag Father’s Day
1 August Schweizer Nationaltag Swiss National Holiday
15 August Mariä Himmelfahrt Assumption Day
15 August Nationalfeiertag
Germany’s National Holiday
3rd Sunday in September Eidgenössicher Dank-, Buß- und Bettag Federal Day of Thanksgiving, Repentance & Prayer (Switzerland)
3 October Tag der Deutschen Einheit Day of German Unity
(commemorates German reunification in 1990)
31 October Reformationstag Reformation Day
(Protestant holiday, commemorates Martin Luther
1 November Allerheiligen All Saints Day
2 November Allerseelen All Soul’s Day
Similar to the Day of the Dead, (Catholic)
November Buß- und Bettag Day of Repentance and Prayer
(Protestant Germany)
11 November Karneval – Germany,
Fasching - Austria
Carnival season starts at 11 minutes past the 11th hour on 11.11)
26 October Nationalfeiertag
Austrian National Holiday
8 December Maria Empfangnis Feast of the Immaculate Conception
25 December Christtag Christmas Day
26 December Stephanitag Boxing Day

You’ll notice a difference between the German holidays in Catholic regions (Austria, Southern Germany – Bavaria,) and more predominantly Protestant regions (Northern Germany, Switzerland).

You should also be aware that holidays such as Father’s Day and Mother’s Day are on dates different to those in the UK and US – so don’t mix up your dates in your German English translation (or forget to call your parents on the relevant day if you're abroad!).

Other articles in this German language series include:

Guide to pronouncing the German alphabet

The German umlaut – an explanation and keyboard commands

German currency – the Euro!

Common German abbreviations, their meanings and translations

The world of German SMS language – from A to L

The world of German SMS abbreviations – from M to Z

German loan words – so familiar we forget they’re German!

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