Reformationstag – The 500th Anniversary

On 31st October, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses criticising aspects of the Catholic Church to the church door in Wittenberg, in what is now Saxony-Anhalt (Sachsen-Anhalt).
In doing so, he started the Reformation in Germany, something still very visible today with churches for Catholic and Protestant (evanglisch) congregations, and even separate Religious Educations lessons in school for children depending on which religion they belong to.
It is a public holiday in the Eastern part of Germany, in some other areas school either close completely or allow their pupils time off to go to church.
This year is different.  For the 500th anniversary, the day has been made a national public holiday, although technically what has happened is that each of the areas, where it is not normally a holiday, as passed a by-law to make it such just for this year.  Schools and shops will be closed for the day, with some parts of Germany enjoying a double holiday with All Saints Day being a regional holiday as well.
10 Years ago I recorded a podcast about the Reformationstag in German.  Click here to listen to it.

 

Gründonnerstag

Gründonnerstag is the German name for Maundy Thursday.  It is the day before Karfreitag.

On this day, people go to Church to be freed of their sins in order to make a “clean” start for Easter, thus leading to one explanation of the name: the idea is that “green wood” is said to be fresh.

Another reason for the name may be that it is the end of the fasting season, and people used to eat mainly vegetables on this day.

It is a normal working day, although many people do take the day off to go away for a long weekend.

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

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(Press the “play” button to listen to the podcast)

Download a transcript

Download the MP3 file | Subscribe to the podcast

Osterfeuer

An Osterfeuer is a bonfire that is lit on the evening of Easter Saturday, usually in connection with a Church service.

Different parts of Germany associate the fire with different traditions.  In Bavaria it is also called the Judasfeuer and a straw figure, similar to a guy, is burnt upon the fire representing Judas Iscariot.  In Westfalia it is said to banish the winter.

Some churches have a candle-light service on Saturday evening rather than a fire.

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


(Press the “play” button to listen to the podcast)

Download a transcript

Download the MP3 file | Subscribe to the podcast

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