Holidays, be they religious holidays, national commemorations or family-centered fests, have their own unique traditions that vary from country to country and even region to region. In Germany, for example, presents are shared on Christmas Eve in the glow of live candles on the tree. And New Year's Eve is an occasion for fireworks all over the country.

Passed down from one generation to the next, our traditions and customs help define who we are and often function as milestones in our lives. While many interesting traditions and customs are limited to Germany or a particular region of Germany, others are celebrated throughout western Europe or shared with many parts of the world.

Celebrating St. Martin's Day on November 11

St. Martin's Day © picture-alliance/ dpa

Children with colorful, handmade lanterns promenade through the streets, cheerfully singing songs they learned by heart and hoping to catch a glimpse of the man in the medieval soldier’s uniform. Learn more about the celebration of St. Martin.

St. Martin's Day

Advent and Christmas in Germany

Christmas Market

Advent and Christmas in Germany are a time for traditional, family celebrations. A number of beloved German traditions have become staples around the world, like Christmas markets, Advent calendars, and popular carols. 

Advent & Christmas

Celebrating the New Year

Fireworks in Frankfurt am Main © picture-alliance/ dpa/dpaweb

Does the “same procedure as every year” accurately describe your annual party? Perhaps you should try adding a little German flair to your New Year’s Eve. Dazzle your guests with an obscure British comedy sketch, jelly donuts, “fiery” drinks, fortune telling, and fireworks.

New Year's Traditions

Carnival - Crazy, Zany Winter Days

Carnival fools in Düsseldorf

If you visit a town in Germany’s Rhineland or in the southwestern region during the supposedly dark days of winter you’re likely to find the whole place thrown topsy-turvy. That's because the period before Ash Wednesday is known as Carnival or the fifth season.

Crazy, Zany Carnival

Easter Traditions Full of Color and Meaning

Colorful, traditionally decorated Easter eggs

Easter is a time when all customs seem to symbolize renewal, life and the beginning of spring. Church services, of course, but also colorful eggs, special meals, and huge bonfires are some of the German customs that mark this special time of year.

Easter Traditions

May Traditions

Dancing around the maypole © picture-alliance/ dpa/dpaweb

A number of traditions ranging from May festivals and equestrian processions to the Walpurgis Night fires take place during the romantic month of May, while May 1 has been celebrated as Labor Day in Germany since the late 19th century in remembrance of an American event.

Traditions of May

Candy Cone Tradition Sweetens Start of School for First-Graders

Candy cones make first day of school sweeter

Every year in late summer, one can see the eager and proud faces of first-graders standing in front of their primary schools in Germany, happily holding their colorful Schultüten, or candy cones, which are filled to the brim with sweets and little gifts.

Candy Cone Tradition

Celebrating German Unity

Brandenburg Gate, symbol of German Unity

Each year on October 3, Germany marks the day in 1990 when East and West Germany became one Federal Republic of Germany.

Day of German Unity

Traditional Kaffee und Kuchen

Cake © Colourbox

In between lunch and dinner, there is traditionally a social gathering around a piece of cake or two and a hot steaming cup of coffee or tea. These days, people still get together with friends and family on Sunday afternoon to share some cake and good conversation. 

Traditional Kaffee und Kuchen

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