German Celebrations and Customs > March Holidays & Customs
The following holidays, customs, or celebrations take place in March in one or more of the German-speaking countries.
Tag der Kranken (erster Sonntag im März, Schweiz)
Day of the Ill (first Sunday in March, Switzerland)
This Swiss observation began in 1939 when the physician Dr. Marthe Nicati, who specialized in tuberculosis cases, felt the need to create a day that furthered better relations between the ill and the healthy. She also wanted to create better understanding of the needs of the sick. The "Day of the Ill" is observed on the first Sunday in March with visits to hospitals, media awareness campaigns, and a speech by the Swiss federal president. Each year has a theme. For instance, the 2004 observance was dedicated to family members who must care for elderly parents, an ailing spouse, or other relatives.
WEB > Tag der Kranken (official Swiss site)
Internationaler Frauentag (8. März)
International Women's Day (March 8)
Although this international "Frauenpower" observance has its roots in the U.S., it is little known in its birthplace, probably because of its socialist/communist associations. Inspired by an American commemoration of working women in 1909, and following a meeting of the Socialist International in Copenhagen, Denmark, the German socialist Clara Zetkin (1857-1933) organized the first Internationaler Frauentag (International Women's Day, IWD) in 1911. On March 19, socialists from Austria, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, and the U.S. held strikes and marches. Russian revolutionary and feminist Aleksandra Kollontai, who helped organize the event, described it as "one seething trembling sea of women." As the annual IWD event developed, it took on the cause of peace as well as women's rights. In 1915, Zetkin organized a demonstration in Bern, Switzerland, to urge the end of World War I. Women on both sides of the war turned out.
With the advent of the United Nations in 1945, the U.N. used the IWD observance to further the cause of women's rights around the world, particularly in developing nations where women are still often treated as second-class citizens. International Women's Day is now observed in many countries from Australia to Canada, focusing on gender equality. Today's date for International Women's Day probably goes back to a strike by Russian women textile workers in St. Petersburg on March 8, 1917. Although it was observed in the GDR (East Germany) until German reunification, the celebration of IWD in West Germany (by the SPD party) never caught on, and the date goes largely unnoticed by most Germans today. March 8 is an official holiday in fewer than 20 countries, including Cuba, Macedonia, Russia, Serbia, and Vietnam.
Saint Patrick's Day (17. März - March 17)
Naturally, this Irish holiday is not celebrated in Germany as much as it is in Ireland or even in the U.S., but those few Irish living in Germany do observe "the wearing of the green" and celebrate "St. Patrickstag" with their German friends. Many German pubs also take advantage of St. Patrick's Day to sell more beer and whiskey.
WEB > St. Patrick - www.scoteire.de (in German)
Fasching / Karneval (März - March)
In some years Mardi Gras (called "Fasching" or "Karneval" in German) falls in March. See Fastnacht / Karneval: Die fünfte Jahreszeit for more about the German Mardi Gras celebration.
Easter can fall in March or April, depending on the year. See Ostern for more.