Harvest Festival in Germany

Harvest Festival in Germany is celebrated on the first Sunday of October and is very similar to American Thanksgiving, although there are some important differences. This holiday follows the Grape Harvest Festival, a holiday more commonly known around the world as Oktoberfest.

One of the main activities celebrated on this holiday is the Thanksgiving church services. In churches, the altars are decorated with vegetables, fruits, grains, and nuts to honor God. It is also a day observed by having a meal featuring fattened chicken or turkey, and with Thanksgiving parades celebrated across the country.

The History of Harvest Festival in Germany

The Harvest Festival is known as Erntedanksfest in Germany, which translates to “Thanks for the Harvest Festival” in German. It is a holiday that dates back thousands of years to pagan harvest festivals. It was then adopted by both Catholic and Protestant churches over the years and evolved into more of a religious holiday.

It was a way for rural communities to give thanks for the harvest, but it is now a widespread holiday observed all across Germany. The Catholic Church decreed that the Harvest Festival be celebrated on the first Sunday in October.

This is the first Sunday after Michaelmas and is close to the fall equinox. According to tradition, all harvest festivals were supposed to be completed by Michaelmas, so as not to interfere with the farmers’ need to prepare for the winter season.

Observing the Harvest Festival in Germany

In most communities across Germany, the Harvest Festival is observed on the first Sunday in October, but not all communities celebrate it on that day. In some communities, it is observed earlier or later than this date. Some communities celebrate this holiday as a single day, while others extend the celebration to the entire weekend as a 3-day holiday.

These communities begin with a Friday night mass, complete the decoration of the church on Saturday, and then have a dance. On Sunday, there is the mass followed by usually a feast and a concert.

Where is it celebrated?
Germany (Observance)
When is it?
This year (2024)
October 6 Sunday
Next year (2025)
October 5 Sunday
Last year (2023)
October 1 Sunday