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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.

Is Whit Sunday a Public Holiday?

Whit Sunday is not a public holiday. It falls on Sunday, June 9, 2019 and most businesses follow regular Sunday opening hours in Germany.

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

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010SunMay 23Whit SundayObservance, ChristianAll except BB
2010SunMay 23Whit SundayChristian, Common local holidayBrandenburg
2011SunJun 12Whit SundayChristian, Common local holidayBrandenburg
2011SunJun 12Whit SundayObservance, ChristianAll except BB
2012SunMay 27Whit SundayObservance, ChristianAll except BB
2012SunMay 27Whit SundayChristian, Common local holidayBrandenburg
2013SunMay 19Whit SundayObservance, ChristianAll except BB
2013SunMay 19Whit SundayChristian, Common local holidayBrandenburg
2014SunJun 8Whit SundayObservance, ChristianAll except BB
2014SunJun 8Whit SundayChristian, Common local holidayBrandenburg
2015SunMay 24Whit SundayChristian, Common local holidayBrandenburg
2015SunMay 24Whit SundayObservance, ChristianAll except BB
2016SunMay 15Whit SundayObservance, ChristianAll except BB
2016SunMay 15Whit SundayChristian, Common local holidayBrandenburg
2017SunJun 4Whit SundayObservance, ChristianAll except BB
2017SunJun 4Whit SundayChristian, Common local holidayBrandenburg
2018SunMay 20Whit SundayObservance, ChristianAll except BB
2018SunMay 20Whit SundayChristian, Common local holidayBrandenburg
2019SunJun 9Whit SundayChristian, Common local holidayBrandenburg
2019SunJun 9Whit SundayObservance, ChristianAll except BB
2020SunMay 31Whit SundayObservance, ChristianAll except BB
2020SunMay 31Whit SundayChristian, Common local holidayBrandenburg

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