Why Repentance Day is causing parents stress in Bavaria

You might not have the day off on Wednesday, but many people in Germany do - including schoolkids in Bavaria.

Why Repentance Day is causing parents stress in Bavaria
File photo: DPA.

The lesser known holiday of Repentance Day falls eleven days before the start of Advent; this year it lands on November 22nd. And while it is a public holiday for the entire state of Saxony, other states aren’t as lucky.

Whereas residents in Saxony – particularly Protestant Christians – might be making use of the day to reflect and pray, parents in Bavaria don’t have the day off despite the fact that their kids do.

First celebrated in 1532, Repentance Day was a public holiday all across Germany from 1934 to 1995, when it was cancelled in all states across the country except in Saxony in order to finance nursing care insurance.

Repentance Day being celebrated at a church in Munich in 2014. Photo: DPA.

In Bavaria, though the day of penance was abolished as a public holiday, it was kept as a day off from school – leaving parents in a bit of a rut.  

They do have a bit of help though. In spite of many childcare facilities remaining closed on Wednesday, some parishes in Bavaria offer bible days or organize excursions. Many municipal centres are open too.

More and more companies have also recognized the issue and have been organizing children's programmes on Repentance Day. The children of employees of the ministry of education and cultural affairs in Bavaria are invited to go climbing and the state’s justice ministry offers a judo course or a visit to a fire brigade.

It will also be rather quiet in the south of Germany on Wednesday not only because prayer and worship services will be held all over Bavaria, but because dancing from 2am until midnight and sporting events are banned. Strict fines of up to €10,000 could be imposed if these laws are broken.

Still, the laws in most of the other German states including in Bavaria cite religious obligations and state that workers are entitled to take time off on Repentance Day if they wish to do so.

Regulations are also slightly different in Berlin; Protestant students in the capital city can decide for themselves whether or not to attend school on the day of prayer.


REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. German is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, comes with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.