Last year I wrote about Halloween and how we didn’t celebrate it in Germany as, at the time, it was almost unheard of.
And yet, the 31st October was a public holiday for us, not for all of Germany, but for the Protestants and areas where the population was largely protestant.
The 31st October is Reformation Day, Reformationstag in German. It was the day, when Martin Luther (1483 -1546) criticised the Catholic Church, which then caused the split between Catholics and Protestants, Lutherans in particular.
There is quite a long article on Wikipedia but here is a very short version:
Aged 21, Martin Luther became a monk. He got caught in a terrible thunderstorm and was so frightened that he promised God to become a monk if he survived the storm. As a monk he noticed lots of things in the Catholic Church that he didn’t agree with. For example, he didn’t think it was right for people just to buy themselves free of their sins, nor did he think it was right, that only the Pope knew what was written in the Bible. He wanted people to be able to read the Bible in German and to realise that God would forgive them their sins if they repented, not if they gave money to the Church.
Finally, on the 31st October 1517 he wrote ‘The 95 Theses’ which resulted in the Reformation and a split from the Catholic Church.
Later he translated the Bible into German and also married Katharina von Bora, a former nun, who like him wasn’t a Catholic any more. (This is a very short life story, if you want to know more, read the Wikipedia version)
For many years the ‘Reformationstag’ was not just a church holiday for the Lutherans but a public holiday. All areas in Germany with a majority of protestants had a day off, whereas Cartholic areas had to work. Then again, they had (and still have) a day off work on the 1st November – Allerheiligen, All Saints’ Day – which isn’t a protestant holiday.
Nowadays, there are only a few states in Germany who have a public holiday on the 31st October: Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia.
If you have a little time today, have a look at this website Lutherbonbon where you can read more information about Martin Luther in German.
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