Traditions Guide for Expats

Public holidays (Feirertage) in Germany vary from one federal state to another with some states having more public holidays than others. Generally, businesses and schools close on these days – excluding hospitals and police stations.

Should a public holiday fall on a weekend, the following Monday or previous Friday is not taken off as is sometimes the case in other countries.

Berlin Public Holidays 2021 – 2022

Public Holiday 2021 2022
New Y ear’s Day 1 Jan 1 Jan
Epiphany 6 Jan 6 Jan
WWII Genocide Memorial Day 27 Jan 27 Jan
Good Friday 2 Apr 22 Apr
Easter Sunday 4 Apr 24 Apr
Easter Monday 5 Apr 25 Apr
Walpurgisnacht (Witches’ Night) 30 Apr 30 Apr
Labour Day 1 May 1 May
Ascension Day 13 May 2 Jun
Whit Monday 24 May 13 Jun
Corpus Christi 3 Jun 23 Jun
Assumption of the Virgin Mary 15 Aug 15 Aug
Day of German Unity 3 Oct 3 Oct
Day of Reformation 31 Oct 31 Oct
All Saints’ Day 1 Nov 1 Nov
Berlin Wall Opening Day 9 Nov 9 Nov
National Day of Mourning 14 Nov 14 Nov
Repentance Day 17 Nov 16 Nov
St Nicholas’ Day 6 Dec 6 Dec
Christmas Day 25 Dec 25 Dec
2nd day of Christmas 26 Dec 26 Dec

Labour Day

Unlike other parts of the world that celebrate this day, Labour or May Day, as it’s known, has been a day of conflict between the parties of the left and the parties of the right. During the post-war period, throughout Berlin (east and west) May Day was a day of peaceful marching – until 1987. In Kreuzberg, which during this time was home to masses of Turkish immigrants, draft-dodging youth and the largest concentration of punks anywhere in Europe, marchers vocalized through protest about the highly-politicized squatting movement. What followed was anarchy as heavy-handed police clashed with protestors.

There have been periodic attempts to ban the event in recent years, however, this has always been unsuccessful. Since ’87, fascist groups have instigated marches in Friedrichshain and Prenzlauer Berg.

Since 2002 the authorities have taken proactive measures to manage and minimize the violence that previously accompanied the event. These strategies appear to be working as nowadays, live music and food and drink vendors fill the day.

This is not an event for the faint-hearted.

Day of Germany Unity

This holiday represents the day The Wall came down. Unlike what you may think, this is a relatively low-key day.

This, in fact, isn’t the actual date for unification. The wall came down on Nov 9, 1989, and while this is a significant date as it was the anniversary of the first real German Republic in 1918 and the defeat of Hitler’s first coup in 1923, this was also the same day in 1938 when the Nazis commenced their large scale anti-Jewish program. It was therefore determined inappropriate as a national holiday and October 3, 1990, was chosen as the day of formal reunion.