Can you go shopping on Good Friday?

Hot Cross BunI was asked this week if the shops are open in Germany on Good Friday.

It’s a simple answer: no.

Even on Gründonnerstag (Maundy Thursday) many shops are required to shut earlier than usual, with supermarkets that usually stay open until 9pm, 10pm or even midnight on other days closing their doors at 8pm and not opening again until Saturday morning.

And when they do open there will be a last-minute rush for Osterhasen and generally a lot of people stocking up before everything shuts again for another two days.

With even the bakeries closed on Good Friday, the petrol stations will be doing a good trade and are probably the best place to go if you run out of anything over the weekend.

Why are there no lorries on the roads on Good Friday?

It’s always nice to be returning from holiday or a weekend away on a Sunday, as there are very few lorries on the roads.  The reason for this is something called the “Wochenendfahrverbot”, a part of the German road-users law (StVO) which prohibits lorries from using the roads on Sunday before 10pm.

There are some exceptions, such as those delivering fresh produce, but in general it means that the roads, especially the motorways, are fairly empty and flow faster.

A hot cross bun - not something you usually see in GermanyBut what about on Good Friday?

When I was asked this yesterday, I thought I might be in for a lot of research, but in the end the answer was simple.  Just look in the relevant paragraph of the StVO.  That paragraph is known as §30 Abs. 4 – and contains a very straight forward answer.

Good Friday is listed by name as a day on which the Fahrverbot applies for all of Germany.

And before the same question comes up again next week – Easter Monday is too.

Ostern

Easter is called Ostern in German. The Easter Week starts on Palm Sunday as is known as the Karwoche. Its climax starts on Maundy Thursday, known as Gründonnerstag and is followed by Karfreitag, Karsamstag, Ostersonntag and Ostermontag.

Traditionally people either go to Church on Saturday evening to a service called the Osterfeuer or on Sunday morning.

Also on Sunday morning children hunt for Easter Eggs, Ostereier, around the flat or in the garden.

Easter marks the end of Lent, so people eat meat again on Easter Sunday. They eat pork, beef or even rabbit and can start drinking alcohol again.

Karfreitag, Ostersonntag and Ostermontag are public holidays, so all of the shops are closed.

The date on which Easter falls varies from year to year, but can be calculated. It can be anytime between the 22nd March and 25th April. The exact fomula is known as “Computus” (see Wikipedia for more details).

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

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