Holidays and Celebrations

Holiday and Festivities Calendar for Austria, Germany, Switzerland

Oktoberfest (which begins in September!) may be the most famous, but there are many other traditional celebrations in German-speaking Europe, ranging from the bizarre “Dinner for One” New Year’s custom to Karneval (Mardi Gras) and pumpkin festivals around Halloween.

Berlin at Christmas

Berlin’s Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church at Christmas. PHOTO © Hyde Flippo

Austria and Germany have been big contributors to the way Americans and many others celebrate Christmas — from “Silent Night” to the Christmas tree and Santa. But Germans and Austrians still have their own unique ways of celebrating Christmas (Weihnachten) and other holidays. See our calendar for proof of that.

Some Key Germanic Observances

Below you’ll find a sample of key Austrian, German, and Swiss holidays, festivals, and observances. Dates marked with an asterisk (*) are official holidays. For all holidays and celebrations, see our full Holiday Calendar.

Selected Celebrations and Holidays

  • January 1* | New Year’s Day (Neujahr) – New Year’s Eve (Silvester) is observed with fireworks! More…
  • January 6 | Epiphany (Heilige Drei Könige, Three Kings) – The arrival of the Three Wise Men is the last of the 12 days of Christmas. January 6 is a legal holiday in Austria and parts of Germany and Switzerland. More…

Free Calendar Download

From AboutGerman.net and The German Way in PDF format: A printable birthday dates calendar for notable people from Austria, Germany and Switzerland, plus the dates of holidays and observations in 2014.
> Download our free 18-page 2014 Birthday and Holiday Calendar

  • February/March | Mardi Gras (Fasching/Karneval) – In Catholic regions in February or March, depending on the date of Easter. More…
  • March/April | Easter (Ostern) falls in the month of March or April. More…
  • May 1* | May Day (der erste Mai – Tag der Arbeit) – Known in most parts of the world as Labor Day (Tag der Arbeit). More…
  • August 1* | Swiss National Day (Bundesfeier) – Celebrated with fireworks
  • September | Oktoberfest (Oktoberfest) – In Munich. Two-week celebration beginning in late September and ending on the first Sunday in October. More…
  • October 3* | German Unity Day (Tag der Deutschen Einheit) – Germany’s national holiday commemorates the official date of German reunification, as specified in the 1990 Unification Treaty (Einigungsvertrag). More…
  • October 26* | National Day (Nationalfeiertag, Austria) – Since 1965. The day was earlier known as Tag der Fahne (Flag Day, 1955-1964). More…
  • November | National Day of Mourning (Volkstrauertag) – In November on the Sunday two weeks prior to the first Advent Sunday. In memory of Nazi victims and the dead in both world wars. Similar to Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day in the US. More…
  • December 6 | St. Nicholas DayNikolaustag is when children get small gifts from Saint Nicholas (not Santa!). More…
  • December 24 | Christmas Eve (Heiligabend) is when families gather around the Christmas tree and exchange gifts in Germany and most of Europe. > More…
  • December 25* | Christmas Day (Weihnachtstag) – December 26 is also an official holiday in German-speaking Europe. More…

Also see: Oh the many holidays at the German Way Expat Blog.

Next | Holidays and Celebrations Calendar