Many Christians in Germany observe the Second Day of Pentecost, on the day after Pentecost (or Whitsunday). It is a national public holiday. Pentecost commemorates the Holy Ghost's descent on Jesus Christ's disciples, according to the Bible.
Is Whit Monday a Public Holiday?
Whit Monday is a public holiday. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.
What Do People Do?
Traditionally, there was a whole week of church based celebrations for Pentecost. The public holiday on the Monday after Pentecost Sunday is a reminder of these celebrations. In Germany, people mark the Second Day of Pentecost with various local and regional customs.
The night between Pentecost, or Whitsunday, and Pentecost Monday is known as the night of unrest (Unruhnacht or Bosheitsnacht). In the past, people thought that evil spirits were active during this night and would steal any property not locked away. Now, in some areas, young people play the role of the evil spirits and move small agricultural tools and garden benches to other properties. Young men may also nail birch branches to house walls of young women they want to marry.
The Pentecost week celebrations continue beyond Monday in some areas. The Tuesday after Pentecost Sunday is known as Forest Day (Waeldchestag) in Frankfurt am Main. A large party and fun fair are held in a wooded area of a park on the town's outskirts and neighboring suburbs. An outdoor play about the local history of the area and a historical festival are held in the town of Deidesheim.
The Wednesday after Pentecost Sunday is known as Garlic Wednesday (Knoblauchsmittwoch) in an area around the border between the states of Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony. The day was traditionally marked by eating a dish containing a lot of garlic. The celebrations were also political and were banned around 1870. However, the customs were recently revived.
The second day of Pentecost is a public holiday in all German states. Post offices, banks, stores and other businesses are closed. However, some tourist stores may be open and stores at railway stations, airports and along highways are usually open.
There are some restrictions on selling alcohol, public performances and dancing. Public transport services may run as usual, at a reduced service or no service depending on where one lives or intends to travel.