Holidays & Traditions
Holidays, be they religious holidays, national commemorations or family-centered fests, have their own unique traditions that vary from country to country and even region to region. In Germany, for example, presents are shared on Christmas Eve in the glow of live candles on the tree. And New Year's Eve is an occasion for fireworks all over the country.
Passed down from one generation to the next, our traditions and customs help define who we are and often function as milestones in our lives. While many interesting traditions and customs are limited to Germany or a particular region of Germany, others are celebrated throughout western Europe or shared with many parts of the world. Decorating a Christmas tree or hiding Easter eggs, for example, are widespread traditions that originated in Germany.
A number of traditions ranging from May festivals and equestrian processions to the Walpurgis Night fires take place during the romantic month of May, while May 1 has been celebrated as Labor Day in Germany since the late 19th century in remembrance of an American event.
Traditions of May
The journeyman travels of the craftsmen, also known as "auf der Walz" or Tippelei – “on the road” – has a storied tradition in Germany which has survived until today with a few modern adjustments. Although no longer required, craftsmen continue this Middle Age tradition.
The Easter season is a time when all customs seem to symbolize renewal, life and the beginning of spring. Colorful eggs, special meals, huge bonfires and, of course, church services are some of the customs that mark this special time of year.
In between lunch and dinner, there is traditionally a social gathering around a piece of cake or two and a hot steaming cup of coffee or tea. These days, people still get together with friends and family on Sunday afternoon to share some cake and good conversation.
Traditional Kaffee und Kuchen
Every year in late summer, one can see the eager and proud faces of first-graders standing in front of their primary schools in Germany, happily holding their Schultüten, or candy cones, which are filled to the brim with sweets and little gifts. How did this custom begin?
Candy Cone Tradition
The national holiday on October 3 is a time to celebrate the peaceful unification of Germany in 1990 and a time to renew the commitment to using freedom to help shape our world.
Day of German Unity
Children with colorful, handmade lanterns promenade through the streets, cheerfully singing songs they learned by heart and hoping to catch a glimpse of the man in the medieval soldier’s uniform. Learn more about the celebration of St. Martin.
St. Martin's Day
If you visit a town in Germany’s Rhineland or in the southwestern region during the supposedly dark days of winter you’re likely to find the whole place thrown topsy-turvy. That's because the period before Ash Wednesday is known as Carnival or the fifth season.
Crazy, Zany Carnival
Advent and Christmas in Germany are a time for traditional, family celebrations. A number of beloved German traditions have become staples around the world, like Christmas markets, Advent calendars, and popular carols.
Advent & Christmas
Does the “same procedure as every year” accurately describe your annual party? Perhaps you should try adding a little German flair to your New Year’s Eve. Dazzle your guests with an obscure British comedy sketch, jelly donuts, “fiery” drinks, fortune telling, and fireworks.
New Year's Traditions