If there is one thing the Germans love, it’s holidays. And no month is as jam-packed with holiday spirit as May.
May has more national and regional holidays than any other month on the German calendar, with a whopping five. These include:
- Tag der Arbeit (Workers' Day)
- Christi Himmelfahrt (Ascension)
- Pfingstsonntag (Pentecost)
- Pfingstmontag (Pentecost Monday)
- Fronleichnam (Corpus Christi)
While all of these holidays are celebrated throughout Germany, only three are recognized nation-wide (Labor Day, Pentecost Monday, and Ascension). Pentecost Sunday is only an official holiday in Brandenburg, and Corpus Christi is only recognized in Baden-Württenberg, Bavaria, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Saarland.
It's appropriate that the month begins with Workers' Day, because all of these holidays are great for the gainfully employed. So many days off! Be sure to plan ahead, though, because all stores and supermarkets will be closed. For unprepared international students, this often results in a day of Doener Kebab and Netflix (not a terrible outcome). This is another reason why it is always good to befriend German classmates: they'll make you aware of the quirks of your region.
There are also several informal holidays in Germany that occur in May. Our favorite is Vatertag, which is celebrated on the same day as Ascension. Men across the country load up wagons with beer, wine, and snack and walk around the forest for the day. It's no surprise that alcohol related accidents rise three-fold on Father's Day in Germany. Mother's Day is celebrated every May on the second Sunday of the month. And unlike Vatertag, Muttertag is much closer to its American counterpart.
When you're in Germany, May will be a great time, full of festivals and parties and holidays. But as much fun as all these holidays can be, in our experience, the most magical part of May is all the extra time to study!