What is being marked on Assumption Day in Germany?
Assumption Day is a Christian holiday celebrated as a public holiday in some German federal states such as Bavaria and Saarland. It is celebrated on August 15 every year, and marks the day that Mary, mother of Jesus Christ, was taken to heaven.
The story of the Assumption of Mary
The Assumption Day holiday celebrates how Mary was taken to heaven in body and soul. The story goes that when Mary was taken to heaven, her tomb was opened. To the surprise of bystanders, the tomb where she was supposed to be lay empty, and inside only wreaths of herbs and flowers were to be found.
These herbs and flowers have since become a large part of the religious holiday and shape many of the activities that take place on Assumption Day in Germany. This short video shows why the day is so important to Orthodox Christians and Catholics.
Video: Youtube / Office Holidays
What do people do for Assumption Day in Germany?
The Assumption of Mary (or Mariä Himmelfahrt, in German), though not a public holiday in many federal states, is still observed by Christians (particularly Catholics) across Germany. Many choose to attend church for special services that take place on the day. Since it is not a national holiday in Germany, airports are open and public transportation operates as usual, except in those states that keep Assumption Day as a public holiday.
Herbs and flowers
Many Christians choose to go out to meadows and gather bouquets of herbs and flowers on this special day. The bouquets are typically blessed at church services, then hung in houses to protect them from harm. Some popular herbs and flowers include agrimony, chamomile, clover, thyme and valerian.
Children also play a part in the day. The first ripe hazelnuts or walnuts of the season are called “Mary’s nuts” and are given to children on Assumption Day.
Assumption Day pilgrimages
In other countries, particularly in eastern Europe, Orthodox Christians fast for 15 days leading up to the day, but in Germany this is not common practice. Instead, some Christians in Germany make pilgrimages 30 days after Assumption Day, as it is believed that this is when Mary is blessing the Earth.
Assumption Day in Germany
Outside of church services and pilgrimages, some regions host special events such as parades to mark the day. Many families then gather in the evening for a small celebration with some food and close the day together.
Now that you know what to look for, perhaps you can find some events going on near you to celebrate Assumption Day in Germany, or simply sit back and enjoy watching others celebrate with herbs and flowers at the parade.