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Whit Sunday in Germany

Pentecost is a religious holiday in Germany to mark the Holy Spirit's descent on Jesus' followers. Many local and regional customs are also associated with Pentecost Sunday, which is also known as Whitsunday.

The dove often symbolizes the Holy Spirit, who is believed to have descended on to Jesus' followers. Pentecost marks this occasion.
The dove often symbolizes the Holy Spirit, who is believed to have descended on to Jesus' followers. Pentecost marks this occasion.
©iStockphoto.com/Irochka_T

What Do People Do?

Many Christians attend a special church service at Pentecost. Spring fun fairs are held on the long Pentecost weekend in many areas of Germany. There are many local customs that go back to pre-Christian times.

Birch trees are decorated with large wreaths (Pfingstbaumpflanzen) in parts of the state of Lower Saxony. Birch trees are just coming into leaf at this time of year and symbolize the fertile spring and summer seasons. Young men in rural areas may attach a birch sprig to the wall beneath an unmarried woman's window. This fertility rite can be traced back thousands of years.

Large wreaths (Pfingstenkranz) are erected in two squares in the town of Oelde in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Each wreath consists of three poles wrapped in greenery and joined at the top to make a structure about nine meters (30 feet) high. People dance around the decoration and sing traditional songs.

The cattle were traditionally in stables and fields near villages in rural areas during winter and early spring. They were taken to fields further away from the villages, often high in the mountains, at Pentecost. The strongest animals were decorated with flowers and plants and led the procession. The custom of decorating prize cattle and leading them through the streets is still alive in some rural areas, particularly in southern Germany's mountainous areas.

Public Life

Public life in Germany on Pentecost is similar to that on Sundays. 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 usually run to the normal Sunday timetable, but there may be some local variations.

Background and symbols

See the section below on background and symbols for Pentecost. It is celebrated in many countries, such as the Netherlands and the United States.

About Whit Sunday in other countries

Read more about Whit Sunday.

Whit Sunday Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday TypeWhere It is Observed
SunMay 232010Whit SundaySilent DayAll except BB
SunMay 232010Whit SundayChristian, Common Local HolidaysBrandenburg
SunJun 122011Whit SundayChristian, Common Local HolidaysBrandenburg
SunJun 122011Whit SundaySilent DayAll except BB
SunMay 272012Whit SundayChristian, Common Local HolidaysBrandenburg
SunMay 272012Whit SundaySilent DayAll except BB
SunMay 192013Whit SundayChristian, Common Local HolidaysBrandenburg
SunMay 192013Whit SundaySilent DayAll except BB
SunJun 82014Whit SundayChristian, Common Local HolidaysBrandenburg
SunJun 82014Whit SundaySilent DayAll except BB
SunMay 242015Whit SundayChristian, Common Local HolidaysBrandenburg
SunMay 242015Whit SundaySilent DayAll except BB
SunMay 152016Whit SundayChristian, Common Local HolidaysBrandenburg
SunMay 152016Whit SundaySilent DayAll except BB
SunJun 42017Whit SundaySilent DayAll except BB
SunJun 42017Whit SundayChristian, Common Local HolidaysBrandenburg
SunMay 202018Whit SundaySilent DayAll except BB
SunMay 202018Whit SundayChristian, Common Local HolidaysBrandenburg
SunJun 92019Whit SundayChristian, Common Local HolidaysBrandenburg
SunJun 92019Whit SundaySilent DayAll except BB
SunMay 312020Whit SundaySilent DayAll except BB
SunMay 312020Whit SundayChristian, Common Local HolidaysBrandenburg

Quick Facts

Pentecost is a Christian holiday to remember the Holy Spirit's descent onto Jesus' followers.

Whit Sunday 2018

Sunday, May 20, 2018 (All except Brandenburg)
Sunday, May 20, 2018 (Brandenburg)

Whit Sunday 2019

Sunday, June 9, 2019 (Brandenburg)
Sunday, June 9, 2019 (All except Brandenburg)

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Name in other languages

NameLanguage
PfingstsonntagGerman
Whit SundayEnglish
Første pinsedagNorwegian

Alternative name

Pentecost Sunday

List of dates for other years

Related holiday

Other holidays in May 2019 in Germany

World Holiday on May 20, 2019

Fun Holiday on May 20, 2019

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