Good Friday Germany

Good Friday Germany

Many people in Germany mark the crucifixion of Jesus by participating in church services and processions on Good Friday (Karfreitag), which is two days before Easter Sunday. For others, it is the start of a long weekend and possibly a spring vacation.

Is Good Friday a Public Holiday?

Good Friday is a public holiday. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.

 

Good Friday symbols include images of the cross used during Jesus’ crucifixion and of Jesus on the cross.

©iStockphoto.com/MKucova

What Do People Do?

Some people attend special church services on Good Friday. It is customary in some churches and areas that the church organ and bells are not played on Good Friday. Instead musical rattles are used to announce the start of the services and accompany the hymns.

Religious processions or plays are held in the open air in many areas. These tell the story of the last events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion. It is customary to eat fish instead of meat because Good Friday is a fast day for many Christians.

For others, Good Friday is the start of a long weekend that also includes Easter Monday. They may take a short break or longer vacation in Germany or a neighboring country. It is still possible to ski at Easter in some years and regions but in others it is the start of the sailing season. Some high profile car races are also held on Good Friday.

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Public Life

Good Friday 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, a reduced service or no service depending on where one lives or wants to travel.

Symbols

Important Good Friday symbols are images of the cross used during Jesus’ crucifixion and of Jesus on the cross. The cross that is normally on the altar or wall is placed on a carpet or piece of cloth on the floor in many churches. In areas with a Good Friday procession or play, the cross or crosses used as props may be left in place for the whole Easter weekend.

About Good Friday in Other Countries

Read more about Good Friday.

Good Friday Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2017Fri14 AprGood FridayNational holiday, Christian
2018Fri30 MarGood FridayNational holiday, Christian
2019Fri19 AprGood FridayNational holiday, Christian
2020Fri10 AprGood FridayNational holiday, Christian
2021Fri2 AprGood FridayNational holiday, Christian
2022Fri15 AprGood FridayNational holiday, Christian
2023Fri7 AprGood FridayNational holiday, Christian
2024Fri29 MarGood FridayNational holiday, Christian
2025Fri18 AprGood FridayNational holiday, Christian
2026Fri3 AprGood FridayNational holiday, Christian
2027Fri26 MarGood FridayNational holiday, Christian

When is Good Friday?

Many countries observe Good Friday as a national holiday on the Friday before Easter. The day commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ.

Some countries observe the Orthodox calendar in which Good Friday may occur on a different date.

What is Good Friday?

The most important events in Christianity are the death and later resurrection of Jesus Christ, who Christians believe is the Son of God, and whose life and teachings are the foundation of Christianity.

After the last supper, Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, put on trial, sentenced to death. He was then tied and nailed by the wrists and feet to a large wooden cross and left to die. This is why the cross is used as a symbol of the Christian faith.

Good Friday is a day of mourning. During special Good Friday services Christians meditate on Jesus’s suffering and death on the cross, and what this means for their faith.

Why is it called ‘Good Friday’?

At first glance, it seems a strange name for a day that marked such a terrible event as a crucifixion, but when we look at the origin of the name it becomes clearer… or it would if there was one origin that people could agree on. As it stands, you can take your pick from the following:

  • Some say it comes from the use of “Good” as an adjective applied to the day, which is an Old English synonym for “holy.”
  • Others believe it stems from a corruption of the word “God,” in much the same way that “Good Bye” comes from the phrase “God be with ye.” So the name may be derived from ‘God’s Friday’.
  • Undoubtedly most Christians perceive the day as “good” because the message of Easter is of Christ’s victory over sin, death, and the devil. Indeed, the New Testament is also known as the Gospel, which is Greek for ‘Good News’.

Also, it also worth noting that this confusion over the name is mainly confined to Western European and North American Christians. Eastern Orthodox Christians call it “Great and Holy Friday. Around the rest of the world, it’s known as Holy Friday in most Latin nations, ‘Great Friday’ by the Slavic peoples, “Friday of Mourning” in Germany and “Long Friday” in Norway.

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Good Friday Traditions

Many Church services are held in the afternoon, usually between noon to 3pm, to remember the hours when Jesus was crucified on the cross.

Some churches observe the day by re-enacting the process of the cross in the rituals of stations of the cross, which depicts the final hours of Jesus’ life. Other churches may participate in Veneration of the Cross, a short ceremony in which Christians kneel before the cross and affirm their faith.

In Jerusalem, Christians follow in Jesus’ footsteps and walk Via Dolorosa, the traditional path that led to the site of the crucifixion. Many who participate try to ritually bear the same weight Jesus did by carrying crosses on their backs.

Though it’s not a public holiday in the Vatican or Italy, the Pope will say a mass at the Vatican before leads an annual public prayer of the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum in Rome. A procession is then made to the Palatine Hill, accompanied by a huge cross covered in burning torches.

Alfombras in Central America

In some Central American countries, including Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, the streets are decorated with vividly hued designs along the route of Good Friday processions. The tradition of creating these “alfombras,” Spanish for carpet or rug, originated in Spain’s Andalusia region. The practice crossed the pond with missionaries more than 400 years ago. The patterns often depict religious or natural images, created from brightly coloured sawdust. Alfombras are not meant to endure. The patterns disappear beneath the feet of the marchers and spectators.

Hot Cross Buns

A traditional Good Friday treat in the UK, Canada and Australia. Only available at this time of year, these sweet buns are made from a yeast dough augmented with raisins, currants and sometimes a little citron. They’re decorated with a cross made of light frosting, two strips of plain dough, or just a knife imprint. The hot cross buns tradition is savoured by cultures around the world, going back to at least the 16th century when Queen Elizabeth I is said to have forbidden their sale except on Good Friday, Christmas or for burials. The last two occasions have fallen by the wayside: Once Good Friday is over, you’re unlikely to see the treats until next year.

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The ‘quiet holiday’ in Germany

Under the constitutional law on the Protection of Sundays and Public Holidays, Good Friday is treated as a stille Tage (‘quiet holiday’) in Germany.

The restrictions do vary from state to state, but the intention is to restrict any activities which ‘contradict the character’ of the day. This means it is illegal to dance in public for the full day in 12 out of the 16 states in Germany, with the other four enforcing a partial ban during the day. “All non-public entertaining events outside of homes” may be banned in some states.

In the southern states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, the bans start on Maundy Thursday and run until Easter Saturday. In Bavaria, any kind of music, even in bars is forbidden.

Germany Public Holidays 2022

This page contains a national calendar of all 2022 public holidays for Germany. These dates may be modified as official changes are announced, so please check back regularly for updates. Scroll down to view the national list or choose your state’s calendar.

DateDayHolidayStates
1 JanSatNew Year’s DayNational
6 JanThuEpiphanyBW, BY & ST
8 MarTueInternational Women’s DayBE
15 AprFriGood FridayNational
17 AprSunEaster SundayBB
18 AprMonEaster MondayNational
1 MaySunLabour DayNational
26 MayThuAscension DayNational
5 JunSunWhit SundayBB
6 JunMonWhit MondayNational
16 JunThuCorpus ChristiBW, BY, HE, NW, RP, SL,
SN & TH
15 AugMonAssumption DayBY & SL
3 OctMonDay of German UnityNational
31 OctMonReformation DayBB, HH, MV, NI, SH, SN,
ST & TH
1 NovTueAll Saints’ DayBW, BY, NW, RP & SL
16 NovWedRepentance DaySN
25 DecSunChristmas DayNational
26 DecMon2nd Day of ChristmasNational

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