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German Customs and Celebrations

Germany: November Customs

Martinstag, Thanksgiving, and other German celebrations

German Holidays/Traditions (November):

  • Allerheiligen (All Saints)
  • Allerseelen (All Souls)
  • Ewigkeitssonntag/Totensonntag
  • Martinstag (Martinmas)
  • Erntedankfest (Thanksgiving)

Also see our Feiertag-Kalender, a calendar of official holidays in German-speaking countries.


Allerheiligen & Allerseelen
The first two days of November are Allerheiligen (Nov. 1) and Allerseelen (Nov. 2). Related to Halloween, these two holy days are devoted to all of the saints (known and unknown) and to all of the “faithful departed,” respectively. In medieval English, All Saints Day (Allerheiligen) was known as All Hallows. All Hallows Eve (Oct. 31) came to be called “Halloween.” Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate All Saints Day on a different date, on the first Sunday after Whitsunday (Pfingsten). In Protestant areas of Germany, Totensonntag or Ewigkeitssonntag is a similar observance for the dearly departed. This Protestant version of All Soul's Day is observed in November on the Sunday prior to the first Advent Sunday. - See the Feiertag-Kalender for Pfingsten and other November holidays. Additional vocabulary can be found in our Halloween Glossary.

Martinstag/Tauftag Martin Luthers
When Americans and Canadians are observing Veterans Day/Remembrance Day, Germans are celebrating a different kind of holiday. Although it takes place on November 11, the Feast of Saint Martin, the Germanic Martinstag celebration, has more in common with Halloween and Thanksgiving. Martinstag or Martini commemorates Sankt Martin (c. 317-397), Bishop of Tours, one of the most revered European saints.

MORE > Martinstag and the Martinsgans

Erntedankfest, the German thanksgiving celebration is observed in late September or early October. (See details on the Oktober page.) For more about the U.S. Thanksgiving, Germany's Erntedankfest and German Thanksgiving vocabulary, see this article: Erntedankfest: Thanksgiving auf Deutsch.

BACK > Oktober

More Customs and Traditions
A month-by-month guide to German celebrations.

More Glossaries
English-German glossaries on a variety of topics.

Wort des Tages
What's today's German word of the day?

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