Holidays and Celebrations Calendar


Holiday and Festivities Calendar for Austria, Germany, Switzerland

Jump to  |  January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December

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October 3 is the German national holiday, German Unity Day, being celebrated here at the historic Reichstag building in Berlin. PHOTO © Hyde Flippo

Holiday Calendar: Below you’ll find our calendar of Austrian, German, and Swiss holidays, festivals, and observances. Dates marked with an asterisk (*) are official holidays.

Also see the Introduction to this calendar.

January | Januar

  • January 1* | New Year’s Day (Neujahr) – New Year’s Eve (Silvester) is observed with fireworks! More > ‘Dinner for One’ – A German New Year’s Tradition
  • 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. Two popular customs are related to this date: Sternsinger and the C+M+B house blessing.


February | Februar

  • February 2 | Candlemas (Mariä Lichtmess) | Groundhog Day – In Catholic regions. Candlemas (Lichtmess) was a legal holiday in Bavaria until 1912. The religious feast day is also known as the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, which celebrates an early episode in the life of Jesus. Groundhog Day in the US, also on Feb. 2, is drawn from a similar German tradition, via the Pennsylvania Dutch (Germans). A Bauernregel (rural saying) goes, “Ist’s zu Lichtmess klar und hell, kommt der Frühling nicht so schnell.” The British version says, “If Candlemas Day is clear and bright, winter will have another bite.” In other words, if the badger (der Dachs) sees his shadow, winter will stick around a bit longer. In America the badger became a groundhog (das Murmeltier). The German title of the 1993 Groundhog Day movie with Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell is Und täglich grüßt das Murmeltier (“and daily greets the groundhog”).
  • February 14 | Valentine’s Day (Valentinstag) – In Germany Valentine’s Day is not as important as it is in the USA, but it has been gaining some steam over the years.
  • February | Mardi Gras (Fasching/Karneval) – In Catholic regions in February or March, depending on the date of Easter. See Carnival and Mardi Gras, German Style and Movable Feasts (below) for more.
Free Calendar Download
The German Way Birthday and Holiday Calendar in PDF format: A printable birth dates calendar for notable people from Austria, Germany and Switzerland, plus the dates of holidays and observations – updated for 2016.
> Download our free Birthday and Holiday Calendar


March | März

  • March | Day of the Ill (Tag der Kranken) is observed on the first Sunday in March only in Switzerland.
  • March 8 | International Women’s Day (Internationaler Frauentag) – This international “Frauenpower” observance has its roots in the U.S., but it is little known in its birthplace, probably because of its socialist/communist associations.
  • March 19 | St. Joseph’s Day (Josephstag) – Only observed in parts of Switzerland
  • March 25 | Annunciation (Mariä Verkündigung) – Catholic feast day commemorating the announcement of the Incarnation of the Virgin Mary


April | April

  • April 1 | April Fool’s Day (der erste April – Narrentag) “April! April!” = “April fool!”
  • April | Easter (Ostern) often falls in the month of April. See Movable Feasts for more.
  • April 30 | Walpurgis Night (Walpurgisnacht) – Celebrated with bonfires mainly in Germany, Sweden, Finnland, Estonia, and Latvia, Walpurgisnacht gets its name from Saint Walburga (or Walpurga), a woman born in what is now England in 710. Die heilige Walpurga traveled to Germany and became a nun at the convent of Heidenheim in Württemberg. Following her death in 778 or 779, she was made a saint, with May 1 as her saint day. In Germany the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz Mountains, is considered the focal point of Walpurgisnacht.
    Also see: Walpurgis: English-German Glossary – An annotated, illustrated glossary related to Walpurgis Night and May Day (below)


May | Mai

  • May 1* | May Day (der erste Mai – Tag der Arbeit) – Known in most parts of the world as Labor Day (Tag der Arbeit), this day is also related to the Maypole (der Maibaum) and the welcoming of spring, especially in Austria and Bavaria. May 1 is a legal holiday in Europe and all the German-speaking countries.
  • May | Mother’s Day (Muttertag) – On the second Sunday in May in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. In Germany, if Mother’s Day happens to fall on Pfingstsonntag (Pentecost), the holiday is moved to the first Sunday in May.


June | Juni

  • June | Father’s Day (Vatertag) – Second Sunday in June in Austria. Germany’s Vatertag (Herrentag) began in the Middle Ages as a religious procession honoring “Gott, den Vater” on Ascension Day (Christi Himmelfahrt, usually in May). The German version is very different from the American one, being more like a guys’ day out (with drinking).
  • June 24 | St. John the Baptist Day (Johannistag)
  • June 27 | St. Swithin’s Day (Siebenschläfer) Folklore: If it rains on this day it will rain for the next seven weeks. A Siebenschläfer is a dormouse. Similar to Groundhog Day/Candlemas on February 2.


July | Juli

  • Sorry, Americans, but July 4 is just another day in Germany and Europe. There are also no official German holidays in July.
  • July 20 | Commemorative day of the assassination attempt on Hitler (Gedenktag des Attentats auf Hitler)Commemoration of the July 20, 1944 assassination attempt against Hitler. The plot failed when a bomb placed by Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg detonated but only injured the dictator slightly. Von Stauffenberg and his fellow conspirators were arrested and hanged. Today von Stauffenberg and the other plotters are recognized for trying to end Nazi terror and restore democracy in Germany. (The Tom Cruise film Valkyrie tells this story.)
Free Calendar Download
The German Way Birthday and Holiday Calendar in PDF format: A printable birth dates calendar for notable people from Austria, Germany and Switzerland, plus the dates of holidays and observations – updated for 2016.
> Download our free Birthday and Holiday Calendar


August | August

  • August 1* | Swiss National Day (Nationalfeiertag) – Celebrated with fireworks
  • August 15 | Assumption Day (Mariä Himmelfahrt) – In Austria and Catholic regions of Germany


September | September

  • September 29 | Michaelmas (Michaelis (das), der Michaelistag) – Feast of St. Michael the Archangel
  • September | Oktoberfest (Oktoberfest) – In Munich. Two-week celebration beginning in late September and ending on the first Sunday in October. (Sept. 21-Oct. 6, 2013) More…
  • September | Thanksgiving (Erntedank) in the German-speaking countries takes place on various dates from September to November, depending on the location. The Thanksgiving observance in German-speaking Europe is not a legal holiday. More…


October | Oktober

  • 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 6 | Oktoberfest ends (in 2013) – Originally the celebration of a royal wedding, Munich’s 16-day beer festival runs until the first Sunday in October. More…
  • October 26* | National Day (Nationalfeiertag, Austria) – Since 1965. The day was earlier known as Tag der Fahne (Flag Day, 1955-1964).
  • October 31 | Reformation Day (Reformationstag) – Only in Protestant regions of Germany and Switzerland
  • October 31 | Halloween is celebrated more and more in Germany and Europe. More…
  • October | Thanksgiving (Erntedank) in the German-speaking countries takes place on various dates from September to November, depending on the location. The Thanksgiving observance in German-speaking Europe is not a legal holiday. More…


November | November

  • November 1 | All Saints Day (Allerheiligen) is observed in Austria and the Catholic regions of Germany and Switzerland.
  • November 2 | All Souls Day (Allerseelen) is observed in Austria and the Catholic regions of Germany and Switzerland.
  • November 9 | Berlin Wall Day (der Fall der Mauer) – On this day in 1989 the Berlin Wall, built in 1961, finally began to disappear — concrete section by concrete section.
  • November 9 | Night of Broken Glass (Kristallnacht) – On this night in 1938, the Nazis carried out a vicious pogrom against German Jews and Jewish institutions.
  • November 11 | Carnival (Fasching, Karneval) – The carnival season officially begins at 11 minutes past the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month. The start of the pre-Lenten (Mardi Gras) season. See Carnival and Mardi Gras, German Style and Movable Feasts (below) for more.
  • November 11 | St. Martin’s Day (Martinstag) – See Halloween and Martinstag for 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.
  • November | Day of Repentance and Prayer (Buß- und Bettag)
    On the Wednesday prior to Nov. 25. Since 1995, this holiday is observed only in Saxony and is only a school holiday in Bavaria.
  • November | Thanksgiving (Erntedank) in the German-speaking countries takes place on various dates from September to November, depending on the location. The Thanksgiving observance in German-speaking Europe is not a legal holiday. More…


December | Dezember

  • December | Advent (Advent) – The four Sundays leading up to Christmas.
  • December 4 | Saint Barbara’s Day (Barbaratag) has an interesting tradition of cherry branches (Barbarazweig) brought indoors to bloom in winter, based on the Barbara legend.
  • December 6 | St. Nicholas DayNikolaustag is when children receive small gifts from Saint Nicholas (not Santa!) left on the night of December 5.
  • December 24 | Christmas Eve (Heiligabend) is when families gather around the Christmas tree and exchange gifts in Germany and most of Europe.
  • December 25* | Christmas Day (Weihnachtstag)
  • December 26* | Boxing Day (zweiter Weihnachtstag) is also a holiday in most of Europe.
  • December 31 | New Year’s Eve (Silvester) is observed with fireworks! The time around New Year’s Eve in Germany features the unusual custom of “Dinner for One,” a British stage skit (in English) shown on German TV.


Movable Feasts | Bewegliche Feste
Holidays and observances that do not fall on a fixed date.

  • Palm Sunday (Palmsonntag) – The Sunday before Easter
  • Good Friday (Karfreitag) – The Friday before Easter; an official holiday in Catholic regions
  • Easter (Ostern) – Easter falls on the first Sunday after the paschal full moon (differs in the eastern and western churches).
  • Easter Monday* (Ostermontag) – The Monday after Easter; a legal holiday
  • Whitsunday (Pfingstsonntag) – The seventh Sunday after Easter. Also called Pentecost in English.
  • Whitmonday (Pfingstmontag)
  • Ascension Day (Christi Himmelfahrt) – The Thursday 40 days after Easter
  • Rose Monday (Rosenmontag) – Monday is the big day for Karneval in the Rhineland. – See Carnival and Mardi Gras, German Style for more.
  • Carnival – Mardi Gras (Fasching and Karneval) – The Lenten season officially begins in November at 11 minutes past the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, but the date for (Fasching (Austria, southern Germany, Switzerland) or Karneval (the Rhineland, northern Germany) depends on Easter.
  • Ash Wednesday (Aschermittwoch) – The Wednesday after Mardi Gras (Fasching); the beginning of Lent
  • Corpus Christi (Fronleichnam) – On a Thursday in May or June. A public holiday in Austria and Catholic parts of Germany, Switzerland; Thursday following Trinity Sunday (the Sunday after Pentecost).

Also see: Oh the many holidays at the GW Expat Blog.

Next | Holidays and Celebrations

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