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Pfingsten in Deutschland – Pentecost/Whitsun in Germany Posted by on May 28, 2012 in Culture, Current Events, Holidays, People, Traditions

It’s holiday these days in Germany. We celebrate Pfingsten (Pentecost). Pentecost or Pfingsten is a Christian holiday, which is celebrated on the 50th day of the Osterfestkreis (Easter season), that is, the 49 days after Ostersonntag (Easter Sundsay). Pentecost is also called ‘the birthday of the Church’. So, it is a kirchliches (ecclesial) holiday and simultaneously the ceremonial culmination of the Easter season.

In many regions of Germany, there are special Pentecost-customs, for example, das Pfingstbaumpflanzen (the planting of the Pentecost tree), der Pfingstenkranz (the Pentecost wreath), and der Pfingstochse (the Pentecost ox).


Das Pfingstbaumpflanzen (The planting of the Pentecost Tree)

In this custom usually birches are incorporated. For example, you attach a braided garland, made of leafs, between two birch trees. The actual Pentecost trees are fresh logged birch trees, which are usually put up in front of the front door. They are either dug in or are tied up to something.

Der Pfingstenkranz (The Pentecost Wreath)

The Pentecost wreath refers to people who are dancing around the Pentecost tree on Pfingstsonntag (Pentecost Sunday) and Pfingstmontag (Pentecost Monday). Here, the actual tree is again a birch.

Der Pfingstochse (Pentecost Ox)

The Pentecost Ox is a custom carried out on Pentecost Sunday. On this day, the cattle is driven to the field for the first time by being paraded on the spot. The strongest exemplar is decorated with flowers, straw, and ribbons- and leads the herd to the field. Based on this custom the saying “geschmückt wie ein Pfingstochse” (Primped like a Pentecost Ox) derived, which is used when you recognize that a person dressed up for a special occasion.

Since Pentecost is celebrated on two days, Sunday and Monday, Pentecost Monday is an official holiday in Germany, and in some federal states students also have a so-called Whitsun break, so many Germans avail themselves of the opportunity and make a jouney.

das Pfingsten – Pentecost
der Ostersonntag – Easter Sunday
kirchlich – ecclesial
das Pfingstbaumpflanzen – Planting of the Pentecost Tree
der Pfingstkranz – Pentecost Wreath
der Pfingstochse – Pentecost Ox
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About the Author: Sandra Rösner

Hello everybody! I studied English and American Studies, Communication Science, and Political Science at the University of Greifswald. Since I have been learning English as a second language myself for almost 20 years now I know how difficult it is to learn a language other than your native one. Thus, I am always willing to keep my explanations about German grammar comprehensible and short. Further, I am inclined to encourage you to speak German in every situation. Regards, Sandra


  1. oprea iovan:


  2. David:

    Thank you for reminding me that Pentecost (pente=50) is equivalent to Pfingsten in German. I’ll be careful never to say to anyone that she is ““geschmückt wie ein Pfingstochse”. That likely will cause trouble.

    • Sten:

      @David Haha, it most definitely would! Always tread carefully 😉

  3. Veronica:

    Sehr schön erklärt. Danke sehr.
    Ich lerne auch Deutsch als meine 2. Sprache.tolle Sprache,ein bisschen schwer aber ich werde sie sicherlich beherrschen.