Have you ever had to explain to someone that you won’t be at work the next day because there is a public holiday, but never known the English name for it?

Apart from public holidays that are always on a Sunday, there are nine public holidays that are celebrated in all German states. If the public holiday falls on a Thursday, many Germans take the Friday off to make it a long weekend.

New Year’s Day (Neujahr) – 1st of January

After celebrating a little too hard on New Year’s Eve, many people spend this day with a hangover.

Good Friday (Karfreitag)

Two days before Easter Sunday, Christians remember the crucifixion of Jesus.

Easter Monday (Ostermontag)

The day after Easter Sunday, when Jesus came back to life.

Labour Day (Tag der Arbeit) – 1st of May

This day celebrates the achievements of workers.

Ascension Day (Christi Himmelfahrt)

On the fortieth day after Easter, Christians remember when Jesus’ body rose into heaven.

Whit Monday/Pentecost Monday (Pfingstmontag)

At Pentecost, Christians celebrate when the Holy Spirit visited the Apostles. The day before is known as Pentecost or Whitsun.

German Unity Day (Tag der Deutschen Einheit) – 3rd of October

This has been a public holiday since 1990, celebrating when the former East German states joined the Federal Republic.

Christmas Day (Erster Weihnachtstag) – 25th of December

On this day, Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. Unlike in most English-speaking countries, Germans open their presents on Christmas Eve.

Boxing Day (Zweiter Weihnachtstag)

The day after Christmas Day gets its name from the time when servants received a box of gifts from their masters.

There are some public holidays that are not celebrated in all states. These are Epiphany (Heilige Drei Könige) – 6th of January; Corpus Christi (Fronleichnam); Assumption Day (Mariä Himmelfahrt) – 15th of August; Reformation Day (Reformationstag) – 31st of October; All Saints (Allerheiligen) – 1st of November and the Day of Repentance and Prayer (Buß- und Bettag). In Augsburg, Bavaria, there is also a public holiday called the Peace Festival (Friedensfest) – the 8th of August.

How many public holidays are there where you live?

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