Holidays & Celebrations in the Ruhr

Written by Garry on


Two forms of statutory holidays exist in Germany, both religious and political, some of them nationwide and some only in certain federal states. If the fixed date falls on a Sunday for instance, then that day off is lost for most of the workforce, since the day is free anyway. Celebrations that are not days off include Thanksgiving, St Martins, Halloween and Nicolas. Regional vacations that are include Carneval Rose Monday (Rosenmontag) in North Rhine Westphalia.

Political holidays are fixed to a date and include Labour Day, which is officially called “day of the confession of freedom and peace, social justice, national reconciliation and human dignity”. Unification Day is another. Since 1990, October 3 is celebrated as Day of German Unification because this was the year when the reunion of East and West Germany became effective after 40 years of separation throughout the Cold War.

Religious holidays are notable in that both Protestant and Catholic celebrations receive equal representation throughout Germany. Protestant and Catholic Christian belief stamped most holidays, such as Easter, All Saint’s or Christmas. Other festivities have more pagan or rural origins. These holidays follow the church calendar.

Dates include January 1: New Year (Neujahr); March or April: Good Friday (Karfreitag) and Easter Monday (Ostermontag); May 1: Labour Day (Maifeiertag); May or June: Ascension Day (Christi Himmelfahrt); June: Whit Monday (Pfingstmontag); Corpus Christi (Fronleichnam); October 3: Unification Day (Tag der deutschen Einheit); Novemer1: All Saint’s Day (Allerheiligen); December 25: Christmas Day (1. Weihnachtstag); December 26: Boxing Day (2. Weihnachtstag).

New Year

New Years Day in the Ruhr region tends to be a more quiet affair with many bars, bistros and restaurants discovering various ideas to cure a hangover. For Germans, making and breaking New Year’s revolutions is high on the list of things to do, with losing weight and abstaining from alcohol the most popular.

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the year in numerals
© DeiaGreg


Whilst most believe in the Easter bunny, some enjoy eating chocolate Easter eggs, while others love to colour real ones. They can be hollowed out or previously boiled. In Germany there is a long-standing ritual of hiding eggs for children to search out. In the Ruhr region too.

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© Amazing Capitals / DeiaGreg

Labour Day

May Day or Labour Day has traditionally been a politically heated national public holiday in Germany. The real fun starts the night before with the annual Tanz in den Mai (Dance into May). It is also a very special night of celebration in many parts of Europe, especially Nordic countries.

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A celebration that has bounced back from America and become very popular. People love to party in the Ruhr and Germany and Halloween has become a great opportunity. Many varieties of pumpkins are on sale as well as fancy dress for those who love to dress up.

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© VectorState

Saint Martins

St Martins is mostly recognised by processions of young children weaving along pavements carrying paper lanterns that are lit either by real candles or small battery powered bulbs. Due to the dark time of year, this creates a wonderfully magical atmosphere across the Ruhr region.

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St Martins lanterns in the dark
© Amazing Capitals / DeiaGreg


Thanksgiving in the Ruhr region of Germany compares little with the American celebration on the fourth Thursday in November but harvest celebrations hold a long tradition here too. Wine producing areas celebrate grapes being picked and Alpine regions reaping of grain.

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Saint Nicholas

In the Ruhr region, as in the whole of Germany, children put a plate or one of their boots in front of their bedroom door on the evening of December 5. As tradition goes, if they have been kind or well behaved then sweets or small gifts will be left overnight by the mysterious Saint Nicholas.

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Shooes in front of door for St Nicholaus
© Amazing Capitals / Greg

Christmas in the Ruhr

At Christmastime in Germany the evening of December 24 is the major day of celebration and togetherness, traditionally reserved for family gatherings. Eating together and exchanging gifts next to the Christmas tree are the highlights of the Yuletide festivities.

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