German Lessons


The Easter Holidays in German

In a previous Yabla lesson, we discussed Easter traditions in Germany. Today, let's talk about the German names of the main Easter holidays. Easter, a Christian commemoration of the resurrection of Christ, is called Ostern in German. It's a neuter noun, but is usually written and spoken without a definite or indefinite article, in the same way that we don't usually say "the Easter" or "an Easter" in English.


Easter is a week-long religious celebration with major and minor days of celebration. This week is called Karwoche ("Holy Week"). The term has nothing to do with automobiles, but stems rather from the now-obsolete 17th-century German word kara, which means "grief, sorrow, or lamentation." The first major day of celebration is Palm Sunday:


Am Palmsonntag steht eine große Messe auf dem Programm.

On Palm Sunday, a large mass is on the schedule.

Captions 9-10, Papst Franziskus: Der neue Papst hat viel zu tun

 Play Caption


The next four Easter days are not celebrated and not official holidays in Germany: Ostermontag, Osterdienstag, and Ostermittwoch (Easter Monday, Easter Tuesday, and Easter Wednesday). Maundy Thursday, also commonly called Holy Thursday, commemorates the Last Supper of Christ: Gründonnerstag, literally "Green Thursday." This day is not an official holiday in Germany, so Cettina and Sabine can still go out dancing without fear of Tanzverbot:


Da wir heute erst Gründonnerstag haben, gehen wir jetzt eine Runde tanzen und verabschieden uns von euch.

Since it's only Holy Thursday, we'll now go dance a bit and say goodbye to you.

Captions 71-72, Cettina und Sabine: Ostern

 Play Caption


The next Easter day is an official holiday in Germany, Karfreitag or Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion of Christ.


Der Karfreitag ist ein Fasten- und Abstinenztag.

Good Friday is a day of fasting and abstinence.

Caption 65, Cettina und Sabine: Ostern

 Play Caption


The next day, Holy Saturday, is called Karsamstag in German, and is meant in Christian theology to mark the descent of Christ into Hell. It is not an official holiday in Germany either.


The last day of Easter is the most important: Easter Sunday, called Ostersonntag or simply Ostern. This is when, according to Christian belief, Christ was resurrected from the dead. It's surprisingly not an official holiday in Germany (except for Brandenburg), because most shops are closed and most people don't go to work on Sundays anyway. Official work-free holidays are decided in Germany on the state rather than national level.


Der Ostersonntag gehört zu den Höhepunkten der Osterfeierlichkeiten bei den Katholiken.

Easter Sunday is one of the highlights of Easter celebrations among Catholics.

Captions 16-17, Papst Franziskus: Der neue Papst hat viel zu tun

 Play Caption


The day after Easter is an official holiday in Germany and is commonly called Ostermontag, although the religious Easter Monday took place the week before.


Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and watch Cettina und Sabine: Ostern and Ostern mit Eva to get a full overview of the Easter holidays in Germany. Happy holidays from Yabla!

Signup to get Free German Lessons sent by email

You May Also Like