Trick or Treat? Halloween in Germany
Halloween in Germany. While the tradition doesn’t run as deep as it does elsewhere in the world, many German adults and children still enjoy frights and thrills aplenty .
Halloween in Germany is barely two decades old but has already become a popular holiday in the country. While German children say “Süßes oder Saures” (“sweet or sour”) instead of the American “trick or treat,” the custom otherwise follows tradition.
Although Halloween may not be a traditional German celebration, it is now common to see pumpkin (Kürbis) and jack-o’-lantern decorations in Germany and Austria by mid-October.
The day after Halloween (the First of November) is Allerheiligen (All Saints Day) is a public holiday in Germany in five of the 16 states, namely Baden-Württemberg, Bayern, Rheinland-Pfalz, Nordrhein-Westfalen and Saarland. In these states, post offices, banks and schools are closed. A great reason for many Germans to celebrate Halloween.
How is Halloween Celebrated in Germany & Austria?
Austria’ Pumpkin Festival
Around Halloween the Austrian town of Retz and neighboring communities, not far from Vienna, hold an annual pumpkin festival (Kürbisfest), complete with pumpkins, parties, and a Halloween parade (Halloween-Umzug). The region around Retz has also become known for its annual pumpkin harvest. Known as Bluza in the regional dialect, the pumpkin becomes the centerpiece of ein Fest für die ganze Familie, a festival for the entire family.
Halloween specialty stores are becoming increasingly more popular in Germany. One interesting difference between Germany and North America in regards to costumes, is that the Germans seems to indulge much more in scary dress-ups than their American counterparts, even for kids when it comes to Halloween.
The oldest and most revered Halloween event in Germany takes place at Burg Frankenstein near Darmstadt. Though whether or not the castle was actually the inspiration for Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, it is the perfect location for an appropriately chilling Halloween event. Visitors are free to wander the ruins, while actors dressed as ghouls, ghosts, and other gruesome creatures; flickering lights; and an uncanny soundtrack make the castle ruins feel like a truly haunted house.
The town of Mayen, in the Eifel region, holds a Mittelalterlicher Hexen und Magiermarkt – a Middle Ages-style witches and magician fair — on the last weekend of October.
Kaiserslautern hosts a Halloween City parade & pumpkin spectacle. Prizes for best float and best costume will be awarded at this family-friendly event.
Most cities in Germany now feature organised costumed parties at hotels or nightclubs for adults. In Düsseldorf alone there is a “Walking Dead Party” at the Radisson Blu Media Hotel while over 18’s can dance the night away at the Skihalle Indoor Mountain Resort in Neuss.
Admire pumpkins in all their glory. If gaping at gourds is all it takes to make your Halloween happy, check out the pumpkin displays at various venues. Blühendes Barock in Ludwigsburg offers what it calls the world’s biggest pumpkin exhibition, with more than one-half million of them in some 450 varieties organized around a sea-based theme.
Other German Halloween Celebrations
There are three other notable Halloween events that happen annually in Germany. The Tucherland Halloween Party is an overnight event for children that takes place at an indoor playground in Nuremberg, complete with face painting, pumpkin carving, and scary stories. The Movie Park Horror Fest has been, as of 2014, going on for 16 years. Located north of Essen, this event has plenty of zombies, monsters, and mazes. Recently even Legoland began a Halloween event where costumed children receive free park admission on October 31st.