Happy 4th of July! As I spent the start of American Independence Day in school for the first time ever, I’ve been thinking today of all my family and friends watching parades and having cookouts back home. I might even see fireworks here tonight too after the Germany-France game.
July 4th may be a holiday in the U.S., but here there is an entirely different calendar of days off. I look forward to next year when I’ll know when the banks and grocery stores will be closed before I drive to them.
Most of the German days off are Christian or specifically Catholic religious holidays. Easter is a four-day affair, including Good Friday and Easter Monday. But it doesn’t stop there. Many traditionally Catholic states including those in our area celebrate the Ascension, Pentecost, and Corpus Christi in the summer. Somewhere in between Easter and its follow-up holidays is May Day (May 1), or German Labor Day. The reunification of Germany is celebrated on October 3 – Germany Unity Day.
Then we return to religious holidays on November 1, when All Saints’ Day is observed in this area as well. Christmas is a long season here in which most people have a week or two of vacation. The main gift-giving celebration is on December 24, Christmas Eve. Christmas Day and the day after, St. Stephen’s Day, are both official days off.
p.s. If it seems like there are a lot of days off in Germany, remember the U.S. also has Labor Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, and so on. Not to mention a range of religious holidays celebrated by a diverse population. We just don’t celebrate each of them with a fair or festival in each town. (Schade! Too bad!)
What is your favorite holiday or tradition?