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Holidays & Celebrations Ascension Day

Some forty days after Easter, Germans take another holiday. While the origins of Ascension Day are religious, many in Germany just appreciate the day off.

St. Pankratiuskirche in Ochsenwerder

Ascension Day in Hamburg

Christians the world over celebrate the fortieth day of Easter - or Ascension Day - as the day that Jesus Christ entered heaven. After being resurrected from the dead 39 days earlier, he finally left earth to sit by his father’s side above. While many Christians take the biblical accounts of this story literally, many others view the tale as symbolic. Either way, for observant Christians in Germany, this holiday is one of somber celebration, complete with church services, prayer and time with loved ones. Christian visitors and expats should have no trouble finding church services in Hamburg to celebrate Ascension Day (called Christi Himmelfahrt by the locals) like a (Christian) German. See our collection of churches in the city to help narrow down your choice.

Although many German citizens belong to other religions or don’t identify as religious at all, Germany does have a history as a majority Christian nation, and its holidays reflect that. While some German states (like predominantly Catholic Bavaria) take smaller Christian celebrations as holidays, most major ones are national bank holidays as well.

While many Germans don’t spend Ascension Day in church, they’re certainly thankful for an extra day off to enjoy the spring weather. And since Ascension Day falls on a Thursday each year, it’s always a bonus worth looking forward to. Many people will even use this day as a Brückentag (lit. ‘bridge day’) by taking Friday off as well and making a long weekend of it. What better time to explore some of the areas around Hamburg, such as Altes Land, the Lüneburger Heide or the Elbmarschen?

Just remember that Ascension is also Fathers’ Day in Germany, when groups of men (fathers and non-fathers alike) journey into nature with carts full of beer. Depending on where you choose to explore, you may meet some rowdy groups of men on your way.

Ascension Day takes place on 13 May, 2021. It should be noted that this year's celebrations, religious and secular alike, will be affected be the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Celebrations could be canceled or moved online so be sure to check with organizers for up-to-date information.

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