Germany has a wide variety of celebrations throughout the year, many of them of religious nature. This could mean that shoppers have to get more done early before everything closes on what may seem to be a regular day.
Germany observes many holidays over the course of the year for all kinds of reasons. Some are religious, some political and even one specifically meant to take a day off from work. During these days, most businesses and shops are closed and public transportation usually runs on a reduced schedule.
January 1: New Year's Day
The first day of the Gregorian calendar is the first day of the year in Germany. Germans may spend the day with friends and family, or recovering from partying the night before. All of the shops are closed and public transportation will run on a holiday schedule.
Friday before Easter: Good Friday
To begin the most important holiday for Christians, Good Friday is the commemoration of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ to the cross and his death. Two days later, Christians celebrate Easter when Jesus was resurrected from the dead. This holiday, as well as all of the other holidays that surround Easter, change dates each year as Easter usually falls on the Sunday after the first full moon following the first day of spring.
Day after Easter: Easter Monday
Various celebrations occur throughout the day on Easter Monday. Some towns may have parades while children may go on Easter egg hunts or egg rolls.
May 1: Labor Day, International Workers Day, May Day
The first day in May is a busy time to be in Germany. Labor Day is to celebrate workers' achievements, dating back to the development of labor unions. This gives most everyone the day off. International Workers Day features organized street demonstrations by socialists. May Day is a spring festival that involves singing, dancing and various local traditions involving wrapping the Maibaum (Maypole).
Ascension Day: 40 days after Easter Sunday
This is a Christian holiday to mark Jesus Christ's ascension into Heaven. This day may also be known as Holy Thursday. The holiday is observed with a feast.
Whit Monday: Seventh Monday after Easter Sunday
This Christian holiday is observed the day after Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and early followers of Jesus Christ. It is considered by some to represent the beginning of the Christian church.
October 3: German Unity Day
On October 3, 1990, West and East Germany officially came together to form the Federal Republic of Germany. The two countries were separated following World War II. Berlin was divided in two as well and separated by the symbolic Berlin Wall. The wall started coming down November 1989, and parts of the wall can be found around the world.
November 1: All Saints Day
The first day in November is reserved to celebrate all of the Christian saints, both known and unknown. In some parts of Germany, people light candles and leave them at the graves of their deceased loved ones.
December 25: Christmas Day
Christmas is the day that Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It is usually observed with a feast and church services. Businesses usually close the evening before to start celebrations.
December 26: St. Stephens Day
Christmas is observed for two days in Germany. This day is to commemorate the first Christian martyr, Saint Stephen.
December 31: New Year's Eve (Sylvester)
The final day of the year means celebrations around the country. Germans like to light fireworks at midnight and have a toast for the new year. If you watch television on this day, it will be impossible to avoid "Dinner For One," an English language comedy sketch with the catchphrase, "same procedure as every year."
And on October 31, 2017, there will be a special 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses against what he considered the Catholic Church's "indulgences" to the All Saints' Church in Witenberg. This action is considered to be the beginning of the Protestant sect of Christianity.
There are regional observances that can affect life in certain parts of the country. For example, Oktoberfest is known worldwide with a giant fair in Munich and people wearing lederhosen and dirndls every September. However, it is not an official holiday and local businesses get into the Oktoberfest spirit. Karneval is the big party in much of North Rhine-Westfalia, and residents dress in costume and officially kick off what is known as the "Fifth Season" on November 11 at 11:11 am. The party re-intesifies the week before Ash Wednesday, with parades all over the state on Rosenmontag (Rose Monday).