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Epiphany in Germany

Quick Facts

Epiphany celebrates the Magi's (or three wise men's) visit to Jesus shortly after he was born, according to the Christian Bible. It is an annual public holiday in three German states on January 6.

Local names

NameLanguage
Heilige Drei KönigeGerman
EpiphanyEnglish

Epiphany 2014

Monday, January 6, 2014

Epiphany 2015

Tuesday, January 6, 2015
List of dates for other years

Epiphany (Epiphanie, Epiphanias, Erscheinung des Herrn) is annually celebrated in Germany on January 6 to mark the Magi's (or three wise men's) visit  to baby Jesus.  It is also the end of the Christmas season. The German states of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria and Saxony-Anhalt celebrate it as a public holiday.

Epiphany celebrates the three wise men's visit to Jesus.

©iStockphoto.com/KIM FREITAS

What do people do?

Some people in Germany attend a special church service on Epiphany. If the church has had a crib display during the Christmas period, the figures representing the Magi are placed in the crib on January 6.  People with a crib scene at home do the same.  Children learn about the story of the three wise men and may act out the whole Christmas story. Homes and stables in rural areas are cleansed by burning frankincense and allowing the smoke to spread through the rooms.

People in some areas gather on Epiphany Eve (January 5) to drink to the health and luck of family and friends in the coming year. Special beer known as bockbier is brewed for this purpose. This type of beer has a stronger taste and a higher percentage of alcohol than other beers.

Groups of children go from house to house dressed as the three wise men between December 27 and January 6. They knock on the door of each house and sing hymns about the Jesus' birth and the Magi's visit. If the door is opened, they ask for money for a specific charity.

Public life

Epiphany is a public holiday in the German states of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria and Saxony-Anhalt. In these states, post offices, banks, stores and other businesses are closed. However, stores in some tourist areas may be open and stores at railway stations, airports and along highways are usually open.

Public transport services may run as usual, a reduced service or no service depending on where one lives or wants to travel. In the rest of Germany, January 6 is not a public holiday.

Background

Epiphany is a holiday to celebrate the visit of the Magi (three kings or wise men) to Jesus. According to Christian belief, the Magi followed a bright star shining in the sky to Bethlehem and brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. In the Christian traditions of western Europe, Epiphany generally marks the end of the 12-day Christmas period that started on December 25. Christians observe this holiday worldwide.

About Epiphany in other countries

Read more about Epiphany.

Epiphany Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday typeWhere it is observed
SatJan 61990EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
SunJan 61991EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
MonJan 61992EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
WedJan 61993EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
ThuJan 61994EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
FriJan 61995EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
SatJan 61996EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
MonJan 61997EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
TueJan 61998EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
WedJan 61999EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
ThuJan 62000EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
SatJan 62001EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
SunJan 62002EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
MonJan 62003EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
TueJan 62004EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
ThuJan 62005EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
FriJan 62006EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
SatJan 62007EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
SunJan 62008EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
TueJan 62009EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
WedJan 62010EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
ThuJan 62011EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
FriJan 62012EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
SunJan 62013EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
MonJan 62014EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
TueJan 62015EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
WedJan 62016EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
FriJan 62017EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
SatJan 62018EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
SunJan 62019EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST
MonJan 62020EpiphanyCommon Local holidaysBW, BY, ST

Other holidays in January 2014 in Germany

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