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PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

What and when are Germany’s 2020 public holidays?

Germany has upwards of 20 public holidays in 2020 - unfortunately not all of them nationwide. We look at when they are, and why they're celebrated.

What and when are Germany's 2020 public holidays?
When are the 'Feiertage' (public holidays) of 2020? Photo: DPA

Starting on Monday, Germany has several public holidays spread throughout the year. Unlike in some other countries, however, those that fall on a weekend are not typically transferable to the week.

We break down what Germany's Feiertage are, when they occur and which states celebrate them.

January 6th (Monday) – Three Kings Day (Dreikönigstag) in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Saxony-Anhalt 

For countries such as Spain, this day is celebrated as a public holiday nationwide. It commemorates the arrival of the magi in Bethlehem to present their gifts to the baby Jesus.

While Germans don’t usually exchange gifts on the day as is done elsewhere, there’s a delicious Kings Cake (Königskuchen) featuring currants, candied lemon peel and raisins. 

READ ALSO: Seven events you can’t miss in January 2020 in Germany

March 8th (Sunday) – International Women’s Day in Berlin

Photo: DPA

For the second year in a row, the capital is officially celebrating the holiday in honour of women. But don’t fret that the day falls on a Sunday: Berliners are compensated with another public holiday exactly two months later.

READ ALSO: What you should know about ‘Frauentag’, Berlin’s newest public holiday

April 10th (Friday) – Karfreitag (Good Friday) nationwide

The Friday before Easter is a countrywide public holiday, in which Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Christ. Some states take its religious significance more seriously than others, such as in 12 out of the 16 states where it’s 'illegal' to dance on the day. Yet some (here’s looking at you, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg) particularly enforce the ban.

READ ALSO: Is it really illegal to dance at Easter in Germany?

April 12th – Easter Sunday nationwide and officially in Brandenburg

While almost all shops and services cease on this day, Berlin’s neighbouring state of Brandenburg is the only day that officially lists it as a public holiday.

April 13th – Easter Monday nationwide

May 1st (Friday) – Labour Day (Tag der Arbeit) nationwide

The holiday in honour of workers dates back over 130 years and is celebrated around the country with a range of festivals involving everything from dancing around poles to chasing away evil spirits. In Berlin, one of the largest – and typically rowdiest – marches campaigning for workers' rights nationwide typically occurs on May 1st in the Kreuzberg district.

READ ALSO: Why is May 1st celebrated as a public holiday in Germany?

May 8th (Friday) – Liberation Day (Tag der Befreiung) in Berlin

Falling exactly 75 years after the surrender of the Wehrmacht Republic, the day marks the end of National Socialism and World War II. It’s being celebrating as a one-off public holiday in the capital. 

May 21st (Thursday) – Christi Himmelfahrt (Ascension Day) nationwide

In its most pure form, this day is about commemorating Jesus’ event into heaven. Yet the public holiday, which also marks Germany’s Father’s Day, is an epic excuse for many to delve into day-drinking debauchery rather than pious reverence.

READ ALSO: Why Germans get wholly wasted on Ascension Day

June 1st (Monday) – Pflingsten (Pentecost) nationwide

This religious holiday marks the Holy Spirit’s descent on Jesus’ followers. But whether you’re religious or not, it’s always a nationwide public holiday in Germany. 

June 11th (Thursday) – Fronleichnam in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate und Saarland

This holiday is known in English as Corpus Christi, or the Feast of the Body of Christ. While it’s an official public holiday in six German states, it’s celebrated in Roman Catholic communities around the country. 

READ ALSO: ‘Fronleichnam’: What you should know about Germany’s public holiday

August 15th (Saturday) – Ascension Day in Bavaria and Saarland

October 3rd (Saturday) – Day of German Unity (Tag der Deutschen Einheit) nationwide

This monumental day commemorates the reunification of former East and West Germany in 1990, following the fall of the Berlin Wall. 

READ ALSO: 10 things you never knew about German reunification

October 31st (Saturday) – Reformation Day in Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein und Thuringia

Reformation Day in celebrated as a public holiday in nine German states. Photo: DPA

This day marks the anniversary of religious reformation in Europe, commemorating when Martin Luther nailed his 95 proposals on to the door of a church in 1517. Only in 2017, on the 500th anniversary, was it a public holiday for all of Germany.

November 1st (Sunday) – Allerheiligen (All Saints Day) in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate und Saarland

Catholics, and some Protestants, honour this day by visiting the graves of deceased relatives. While it's recognized in five states as a public holiday, some states have declared it a stiller Tag, in which certain activities like dancing in public are restricted.

November 18th (Wednesday) – Buß- und Bettag in Saxony

The “Buß- and Bettag” (day of penance and prayer) always takes place on the Wednesday before the Ewigkeitssonntag (Eternity Sunday), also called Totensonntag (the Sunday before Advent on which the dead are commemorated).

READ ALSO: Saxony public holiday: What is the history behind Buß- und Bettag?

December 25th (Friday) – Christmas 

December 26th (Saturday) – Day after Christmas

READ ALSO: How you can make the most of Germany's 2019 public holidays

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For members

RETIREMENT

Reader question: Can I get a retirement visa for Germany?

Unlike in EU countries such as Portugal or Spain, Germany does not have a visa specifically for pensioners. Yet applying to live in the Bundesrepublik post-retirement is not difficult if you follow these steps.

Reader question: Can I get a retirement visa for Germany?
Two pensioners enjoying a quiet moment in Dresden in August 2020. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Sebastian Kahnert

Due to its quality of life, financial security and health care, Germany snagged the number 10 spot in the 2020 Global Retirement Index. So just how easy is it to plant roots in Deutschland after your retirement?

Applying for a residency permit

As with any non-EU or European Economic Area (EEA) national looking to stay in Germany for longer than a 90-day period, retirees will need to apply for a general resident’s permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) under which it will be possible to select retirement as a category. 

READ ALSO: How does Germany’s pension system measure up worldwide?

This is the same permit for those looking to work and study in Germany – but if you would like to do either after receiving a residency permit, you will need to explicitly change the category of the visa.

Applicants from certain third countries (such as the US, UK, Australia, South Africa, Japan, South Korea, Israel, Canada, and New Zealand) can first come to Germany on a normal tourist visa, and then apply for a residency permit when in the country. 

However, for anyone looking to spend their later years in Germany, it’s still advisable to apply at their home country’s consulate at least three months in advance to avoid any problems while in Germany.

Retirement visas still aren’t as common as employment visas, for example, so there could be a longer processing time. 

What do you need to retire in Germany?

To apply for a retirement visa, you’ll need proof of sufficient savings (through pensions, savings and investments) as well as a valid German health insurance. 

If you have previously worked in Germany for at least five years, you could qualify for Pensioner’s Health Insurance. Otherwise you’ll need to apply for one of the country’s many private health insurance plans. 

Take note, though, that not all are automatically accepted by the Ausländerbehörde (foreigners office), so this is something you’ll need to inquire about before purchasing a plan. 

READ ALSO: The perks of private health insurance for expats in Germany

The decision is still at the discretion of German authorities, and your case could be made stronger for various reasons, such as if you’re joining a family member or are married to a German. Initially retirement visas are usually given out for a year, with the possibility of renewal. 

Once you’ve lived in Germany for at least five full years, you can apply for a permanent residency permit, or a Niederlassungserlaubnis. To receive this, you will have to show at least a basic knowledge of the German language and culture.

READ ALSO: How to secure permanent residency in Germany

Taxation as a pensioner

In the Bundesrepublik, pensions are still listed as taxable income, meaning that you could be paying a hefty amount on the pension from your home country. But this is likely to less in the coming years.

Tax is owed when a pensioner’s total income exceeds the basic tax-free allowance of €9,186 per year, or €764 per month. From 2020 the annual taxable income for pensioners will increase by one percent until 2040 when a full 100 percent of pensions will be taxable.

American retirees in Germany will also still have to file US income taxes, even if they don’t owe any taxes back in the States. 

In the last few years there has been a push around Germany to raise the pension age to 69, up from 65-67, in light of rising lifespans.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Could people in Germany still be working until the age of 68?

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