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Epiphany in Germany

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. 

Is Epiphany a Public Holiday?

Epiphany is a public holiday in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, and Saxony-Anhalt, where it is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.

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

©iStockphoto.com/KIM FREITAS

What Do People Do?

Epiphany is also the end of the Christmas season. The German states of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria and Saxony-Anhalt celebrate it as a public holiday.

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

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2015TueJan 6EpiphanyChristian, Common local holidayBW, BY, ST
2016WedJan 6EpiphanyChristian, Common local holidayBW, BY, ST
2017FriJan 6EpiphanyChristian, Common local holidayBW, BY, ST
2018SatJan 6EpiphanyChristian, Common local holidayBW, BY, ST
2019SunJan 6EpiphanyChristian, Common local holidayBW, BY, ST
2020MonJan 6EpiphanyChristian, Common local holidayBW, BY, ST
2021WedJan 6EpiphanyChristian, Common local holidayBW, BY, ST
2022ThuJan 6EpiphanyChristian, Common local holidayBW, BY, ST
2023FriJan 6EpiphanyChristian, Common local holidayBW, BY, ST
2024SatJan 6EpiphanyChristian, Common local holidayBW, BY, ST
2025MonJan 6EpiphanyChristian, Common local holidayBW, BY, ST

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