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Repentance Day in Germany

The Day of Prayer and Repentance (Buss- und Bettag) is a public holiday in the state of Saxony, Germany. It is on the last Wednesday before November 23 and 11 days before the start of Advent. It is an occasion for Protestant Christians to pray or reflect on quiet thoughts.

Is Repentance Day a Public Holiday?

Repentance Day is a public holiday in Saxony, where it is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.

Some Christians in Germany spend time in prayer or quiet reflection on the Day of Prayer and Repentance.

©iStockphoto.com/RonTech2000

What Do People Do?

Some Protestant Christians spend most of the Day of Prayer and Repentance in prayer or engage in quiet reflection or deep thoughts. For other people in the German state of Saxony, the day is an opportunity to spend time with family or friends.

Public Life

The Day of Prayer and Repentance is a public holiday for many people in the state of Saxony in Germany. Post offices, banks, schools, stores and businesses are closed. However, some stores may be open, especially stores at railway stations, airports and along highways. The Day of Prayer and Repentance is not a holiday in other parts of Germany. However, some schools in the state of Bavaria may be closed.

Background

Days of repentance were previously held on various dates. There were 47 days of repentance on 24 different dates in 28 German states in 1878. In 1893 a church council in Prussia decided that the day of repentance should fall on the Wednesday before the last Sunday in the church year and, hence, 11 days before the first Sunday in Advent. The Day of Prayer and Repentance was moved to a Sunday during World War II.

The day became a public holiday from that period until 1966 when it was abolished after the five-day week was introduced in the German Democratic Republic. The day was a public holiday in the Federal Republic of Germany (except Bavaria). It became a public holiday in Bavaria in 1952 but was observed mainly in Protestant areas. From 1981, it was also observed in Catholic areas.

The Day of Prayer and Repentance was a public holiday throughout the nation from Germany's unification in 1990 until the end of 1994. Germans exchanged the public holiday that year for health insurance improvements. However, Saxony has different health insurance arrangements and the state retained the public holiday.

Repentance Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2015WedNov 18Repentance DayChristian, Common local holidaySaxony
2016WedNov 16Repentance DayChristian, Common local holidaySaxony
2017WedNov 22Repentance DayChristian, Common local holidaySaxony
2018WedNov 21Repentance DayChristian, Common local holidaySaxony
2019WedNov 20Repentance DayChristian, Common local holidaySaxony
2020WedNov 18Repentance DayChristian, Common local holidaySaxony
2021WedNov 17Repentance DayChristian, Common local holidaySaxony
2022WedNov 16Repentance DayChristian, Common local holidaySaxony
2023WedNov 22Repentance DayChristian, Common local holidaySaxony
2024WedNov 20Repentance DayChristian, Common local holidaySaxony
2025WedNov 19Repentance DayChristian, Common local holidaySaxony

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