GERMAN AND GERMAN-AMERICAN
CUSTOMS, TRADITIONS, ORIGINS OF HOLIDAYS

Updated February 2017!


Introductions and Foundational Information

Further Resources

Calendar Key

AUTUMN TRADITIONS AND HOLIDAYS
Cross Quarter Day
August 1
First Harvest is the cross quarter day between Midsummer Solstice & Autumnal Equinox
Mid-Sept to Mid-Oct German-American Heritage Month
Mid-September Steuben Parades are held in New York and Chicago.
Rosh Hashanah
Yom Kippur
Jewish New Year
Jewish Day of Atonement
AUTUMN
AUTUMNAL EQUINOX
September 22
Harvest Home, day roughly equals night (equi-nox). Around the Autumnal Equinox Oktoberfests and Germanfests are held.
End of September Oktoberfests in Germany and North America.
September 26 1st Austrian American Day in 1997. Presidential Praise.
September 29 St. Michaelistag/Michaelmas
1st Sunday in Oct. Erntedankfest / Thanksgiving in Germany
October 1 First Germans at Jamestown, Va in 1608.
October 2 German Canadian Day. Related links.
October 3 Tag der deutschen Einheit - Day of German Unity
October 6 German-American Day
October 31 Reformationstag - Reformation Day
Cross Quarter Day
October 31
Halloween, the last day of Fall, separates Autumnal Equinox from Midwinter Solstice. One of the year's most significant pagan fests.
WINTER TRADITIONS AND HOLIDAYS
November 1 All Saints' Day - All Hallows/Allerheiligen (official holiday)
November 2 All Souls' Day - Allerseelen
November 9 Fall of the Wall and Kristallnacht remembered
November 11 St. Martin's Day; kicks-off Karneval in some areas.
3rd Sunday in Nov. Volkstrauertag - Memorial Day.
Wed. before Totensonntag Buss- und Bettag - Day of Repentance and Prayer (official holiday)
November 25 Heilige Katharina
Last Sunday before Advent Totensonntag - Sunday of the Dead. Protestant.
4th Thursday in Nov. American Thanksgiving compared to German Erntedankfest.
1st Sunday after Nov 26 Advent begins, ends on Xmas eve; Christmas Markets open.
November 30 St. Andreas/St. Andrew
December 4 St. Barbara
December 5 and 6 St. Nikolaus/St. Nicholas: historical, Santa, holiday.
December 8 Mariä Empfängnis and Weihnachtskrippen
December 13 St. Lucia: Festival of Lights. Italian & Swedish traditions, songs.
Hanukkah The story, celebration, recipes, rituals, games, resources, Yiddish.
Kwanzaa An African Midwinter Festival.
Ramadan Islamic festival. Related issue of Turks in Germany.
WINTER
MIDWINTER SOLSTICE
Dec. 21
the point at which the sun reaches its greatest declination, north; the beginning of the solar new year, celebrated with bonfires.
December 21 St. Thomas: the doubting Thomas
Christmas Background, religion, customs, teaching, countless links!
December 24 Tree is put up. Midnight "Christ Mass". 1st day of Xmas.
December 25/26 Christmas / Weihnachten (official holidays in Germany).
December 26 Boxing Day in England
December 31 Silvester/New Year's Eve
January 1 Neujahr/New Year's Day. Poems.
January 6 Three Kings and Epiphany - ends the 12 days of Xmas.
3rd Monday in Jan. ML King, Jr. Day. German-Americans and civil rights.
Cross Quarter Day
February 1
Groundhog/Candlemas Day is the quarter point between the Midwinter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox.
. . . .
SPRING TRADITIONS AND HOLIDAYS
February 2 Groundhog and Candlemas Day (Maria Lichtmess)
February 14 St. Valentin/Valentine's Day
Feb 28, 2017Karneval - Fastnacht - Fasching. Preparations began on 11.11 - Martinstag.
Thursday Weiberfasnacht / Old Wives Carnival: women have "Narrenfreiheit"
Sunday Faschingssonntag / Greasy Sunday
Monday Rosenmontag. Famous Parade televised from Cologne
Tuesday Faschingsdienstag: all parties stop when clock strikes Midnight Shrove Tues/Mardi Gras
Feb 28, 2017 Ash Wednesday / Aschermittwoch.
. Purim: Jewish celebration of religious freedom.
March 17 St. Patrick's Day: Irish-German connection?
March 25 The Annunciation / Maria Verkündigung (9 mos. to Xmas) Lätare(3rd Sun. pre Easter)
  Palmsonntag / Palm Sunday begins Holy Week. Last Sunday before Easter.
April 13, 2017 Gründonnerstag - Maundy Thursday
April 14, 2017Karfreitag / Good Friday
April 16, 2017Easter / Ostern: background, customs, celebration.
. Pesach / Passover
SPRING
VERNAL EQUINOX
March 20
Vernal Equinox. Rebirth of Nature, night & day each appx.12 hours.
April 1 April, April / April Fool's Day
April 6 Scottisch-American Day
Cross Quarter Day
April 30
May Eve/Walpurgisnacht, the last day of Spring, cross quarter day separating Vernal Equinox from Midsummer Solstice.
SUMMER TRADITIONS AND HOLIDAYS
May 1 May Day / Maifeier / Tag der Arbeit.
. Christi Himmelfahrt Ascension: 40 days after Easter. Father's Day
Shavuos/Pentecost Jewish festival 50 days after Passover.
May 11-15 Die Eisheiligen
. Pfingsten / Pentecost - Whitsunday
. Trinitas, Fronleichnam, Corpus Christi: 50 days after Easter
SUMMER
MIDSUMMER SOLSTICE
June 20
Midsummer Solstice is the point at which the sun reaches its greatest declination south. Sonnwend/Midsummer Night
June 24 Johannistag - Summer Solstice - Midsummer Night.
July 1 Canada Day
July 4 US Independence Day plus the Declaration in German.
August 1 Founding of the Confederatio Helvetia in 1291.
August 15 Maria Himmelfahrt - Assumption of our Lady



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