Destinations Magazine

Celebrating German Unity Day…Or Not

By Expatgermany @Laurel_Robbins

German unity dayGerman Unity Day (Tag der Deutschen Einheit in German) is a national holiday celebrated every year on Oct 3rd commemorating the joining of East and West Germany in 1990.   Germany has been very good to be this past year so I thought I should do something to celebrate, but despite numerous Google searches, checking the Munich Tourism webpage, and various other events listing pages, I came up empty handed.  How could this be?  I even searched in German.  I was disappointed when I couldn’t find a Canada Day celebration, Celebrating Canada Day in Germany…Or Not, but not being able to find any German Unity Day in Germany?  This didn’t sound right, but when I informed J.P. (my German husband) of this, his response was “I’m not surprised” and my guess also secretly relieved that he wasn’t going to get dragged out of bed to go to another parade.

German unity day Google logo

Google is celebrating German Unity Day on it's ".de" site on Oct 3rd with all the German state flags on its logo.

I’ve since learned that while there may be smaller events happening around Munich and elsewhere in the country, (ones that I couldn’t find in Munich), there is only one big celebration in one city for the whole country and a smaller scale celebration in Berlin.  The main German Unity Day celebration rotates every year and is being held in Bonn this year and has been turned into a 3 day celebration (also combining the  65th anniversary of the founding of North-Phine Westphalia) with an expected attendance of 200,000 people.  So it seems that Germans are interested in celebrating German Unity Day, but may not have the chance to do so, depending on where they live.  German Unity Day  was last held in Munich  in 1996.  Unlike Canada Day or Fourth of July celebrations there are no flags hung in honor of the occasion, nor parades nor fireworks in every city in honor of German Unity Day.   The only annual reference I could find to German Unity Day in Munich is that Oktoberfest ends on Oct 3rd every year.

Considering what a big deal the reunification of Germany was, and we know Germans like to celebrate (hello Oktoberfest) which even has its own Oktoberfest Parade, why are there so few events scheduled around the country for German Unity Day?

J.P.’s response was not helpful “I don’t know.”  When I asked what Germans do on Germany Unity Day his response was “Well I don’t know about other Germans, but I’m happy to have the extra day for a holiday.”  Not helpful either but I do understand about being happy to have an extra day off.  As I bombarded him with further questions his responses remained unhelpful.

As a Canadian I feel as a country that we are modest in celebrating our accomplishments and nation as a whole,  and while I don’t actively seek out a celebration for every national holiday such as Labour Day (held the first Monday in September to celebrate the economic and social achievements of workers, and yes I did have to look that up), I do enjoy celebrating Canada Day and find its the one day that Canadians are unabashedly proud to be Canadian.  The United States is famous for its Fourth of July celebrations. So why are there not the same level of  celebrations all over Germany?  Is it cultural?  Modesty? Indifference?  I don’t pretend to have the answers, but will celebrate German Unity Day in my own way with a visit to the Starnberger See and thank Germany for all it’s given me these past 15 months.

What insights do you have on German Unity Day celebrations?


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