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 Holiday20212022
New Y ear’s Day1 Jan1 Jan
Epiphany6 Jan6 Jan
WWII Genocide Memorial Day27 Jan27 Jan
Good Friday2 Apr22 Apr
Easter Sunday4 Apr24 Apr
Easter Monday5 Apr25 Apr
Walpurgisnacht (Witches’ Night)30 Apr30 Apr
Labour Day1 May1 May
Ascension Day13 May2 Jun
Whit Monday24 May13 Jun
Corpus Christi3 Jun23 Jun
Assumption of the Virgin Mary15 Aug15 Aug
Day of German Unity3 Oct3 Oct
Day of Reformation31 Oct31 Oct
All Saints’ Day1 Nov1 Nov
Berlin Wall Opening Day9 Nov9 Nov
National Day of Mourning14 Nov14 Nov
Repentance Day17 Nov16 Nov
St Nicholas’ Day6 Dec6 Dec
Christmas Day25 Dec25 Dec
2nd day of Christmas26 Dec26 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.

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