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Pfingsten (Pentecost)

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  • Wann? (When?)
    • Whitsunday, which is the 7th Sunday or 50 days after Easter and falls between May 9 and June 13.
  • Wo? (Where?)
    • Pfingstsonntag (Whitsunday) and Pfingstmontag (Whitmonday) are celebrated in Deutschland and Pfingstmontag is a legal holiday in all states of Deutschland.
  • Warum? (Why?)
    • Pentecost is the Christian festival on the 7th Sunday after Easter, which celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. It is the beginning of the outdoor season, with picnics and hiking. Germans have always been outdoor people, and therefore spring is to them the beginning of the picnic season and family outings.
  • Sitten und Gebräuche (customs and traditions)
    • Whitsunday (White Sunday) is named after the white garments the candidates always wore for baptism and is also called Pentecost
    • Whitsuntide is the week beginning with Whitsunday, especially the first 3 days.
    • It is legally celebrated on two days: Pfingstsonntag und Pfingstmontag
    • Pentecost customs have merged with those of the festivals in May and in spring
      • The symbols are green twigs and green plants, which play a great part in the celebration: a branch of a birch tree on the doors of houses, taverns, and everywhere is considered as being good luck.
      • Pentecost is the beginning of the outdoor eating season: cowbells are rung in the country and in the city. Many people will start at daybreak to reach a green open place for their picnic.
      • A very common form of the Protestant celebration in villages is the Rauberspiel, (bandit game) which consists of the kidnapping of the spouse, who is searched for and freed by a pretend-army.
      • There are many more agreeable festivals in Hessen, Thüringen, and the Rheinland: fountains are crowned with birch branches and flowers. The most famous festival is at Muhlhausen in Thüringen, which takes place near the famous fountain of Popperode, located outside the city walls.
      • Originally Pentecost was celebrated with a Whitsun King, who usually was picked by winning a horse race. The king was concealed in a cage of green branches and brought before the town council, where his identity was guessed at. More often than not, they couldn't find out who the king was, and if that happened, the king was rewarded with beer.
    • Whitsun Ride, a traditional equestrian procession on Pfingstmontag (Pentecost Monday), is held in the Bayerischer Wald (Bavarian Forest).
    • The "Meistertrunk" historical play is performed on Pfingstsonntag in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, which is located in northern Bavaria, where Mayor Georg Nusch saves the town from destruction by General Tilly during the 30 Years War.