German Customs in February
Part 2: Valentine’s Day - Fasching/Karneval
Traditional and Religious Celebrations and Customs
German Customs in February (Part 2):
- Groundhog Day (Mariä Lichtmess)
- Valentinstag (Valentine's Day)
- Mardi Gras: Fastnacht/Fasching/Karneval
MORE > Celebrations and Customs (Main Page)
Also see our Feiertag-Kalender, a calendar of
official holidays in German-speaking countries.
Valentinstag (14. Februar)
Sankt Valentin and the lovers' celebration in his name are not traditionally German, but in recent years Valentinstag has become increasingly popular in Germany. Originally celebrated mainly in France and the English-speaking countries, it is now common to see Valentine cards and other signs of the holiday in Germany.
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The origins of both the man known as Valentinus and the celebration itself are obscure. Little is known about the Roman (or Romans) who may have been a bishop in Terni or a priest in Rome. Although several legends have arisen around the Christian martyr Valentinus, there is no historical evidence that connects him to lovers or today's Feb. 14 Valentine celebration. As in the case of other Christian celebrations, Valentine's Day is more likely based on the pagan Roman fertility festival called Lupercalia that took place in mid-February. The Lupercalia only ended in 495 when it was banned by the pope.
Fastnacht/Fasching (date varies)
The German Mardi Gras or Carnival celebration goes by many names: Fastnacht, Fasching, Fasnacht, Fasnet, Karneval. This is a movable feast (beweglicher Festtag) that is related to Easter and does not occur on the same date each year. (For the dates this year, see Die fünfte Jahreszeit.) The culmination of the Fastenzeit (Lent) is always on the Tuesday (fat Tuesday = mardi gras, Shrove Tuesday) before Aschermittwoch (Ash Wednesday). The official start of the Fasching season is either on January 7 (the day after Ephiphany, Dreikönige) or on the 11th day of the 11th month (Nov. 11, Elfter im Elften), depending on the region.
NEXT > Holidays in March
Easter - Ostern
How do Germans and other Europeans celebrate Easter?
Groundhog Day (Mariä Lichtmess)
About the German connection for Groundhog Day (Feb. 2)
Feiertage - Holiday Links - Februar
German and English Web sites related to February holidays in the German-speaking world.
Our collection of German country sayings and folk wisdom.
Fasching Web Links
Lots of German Karneval sites!
Celebrations and Customs
Main page. From your Guide.
Digital Greeting Cards
Postcards and greeting cards in German for many occasions.
English-German glossaries on a variety of topics, from your Guide.
Wort des Tages
What's today's German word of the day? From your Guide.
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