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The Week in Germany - October 16, 2020
October 30, 2020
Spooky Celebrations

Dear Readers,

It’s almost Halloween – a time when people celebrate with spooky costumes and unique traditions. Although this day is predominately celebrated in the United States, the influence of Halloween has spread across the globe – even to Germany. And although there won’t be any gatherings this year, it’s still a great time to tell scary stories around the fireplace or watch a scary movie with your family.

During normal times, however, Germany has plenty of Halloween-themed events throughout the country. Germany is home to the largest pumpkin festival in the world, which you can read about here. It is also home to the Frankenstein Castle, a spooky 13th century castle that is typically the site of a large Halloween festival every year. 

But did you know that Germany has it’s own spooky festival in April? In Germany, Walpurgisnacht (Walpurgis Nacht) is a pagan ritual celebrated on the night between April 30 and May 1. Also called Hexennacht (Witches’ Night), it is a night when witches and warlocks supposedly hop on their broomsticks and fly over to the highest peak of the Harz Mountains, the Brocken. While there, the witches and warlocks dance around a bonfire and celebrate the arrival of spring.

Initially Walpurgisnacht was a celebration of spring, but over time, different rituals developed. In some towns, people started gathering together to make lots of noise, such as chanting and banging pots and pans. The noise would supposedly scare away witches and evil spirits.  Today, Walpurgisnacht is a time when people dress up in costumes, play pranks on others and create lots of noise to scare away spirits.

The details and history of Walpurgisnacht are complex. But one thing is for sure: from Halloween to Carnival to Walpurgisnacht, Germans have several times of year where wearing a costume is appropriate! 

Nicole Glass

Webteam, German Embassy

germanyinusa (at) gmail (dot) com

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