German traditions similar to Halloween

By Timothy MuhlenbeckOctober 16, 2020

Halloween Witch
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GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — Halloween is gaining popularity in Germany, with many local nationals celebrating it in the same fashion as those living in the United States. But before Halloween, Germans long celebrated a similar holiday in April, called Hexennacht.

Halloween was introduced to Germany in the 1990s, according to cultural records. And since then, it has steadily become a popular holiday celebrated by locals, especially in areas where American military personnel are stationed. When not in the midst of a global pandemic, German children usually make their own costumes and partake in local Halloween festivities using the phrase, “Süßes oder Saueres,” which is similar to “trick or treat.”

While modern-day Halloween festivities are usually targeted towards younger German children, older teens and adults sometimes wait until the spring to participate in a traditional Hexennacht.

Hexennacht — otherwise known as Witches Night — is an ancient German holiday that occurs on April 30, annually. According to folklore, humans once relied on bonfires and dancing to expel nearby witches and evil spirits. But this practice has since morphed into community-held carnivals and teenagers playing harmless pranks on adults and neighbors, such as: doorbell ditching, spreading mustard on door handles, throwing eggs and wrapping cars in toilet paper.

Unfortunately, the global pandemic cancelled 2020 Hexennacht and Halloween events alike. But there are safe and fun alternatives, recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that you can instead enjoy with your family.

Editor’s Note: Due to Covid-19, it may not be the Halloween everyone is used to, but that does not mean it cannot be fun and enjoyable. Follow this #HalloweenAtTheHouse series for tips, tricks and cultural facts pertinent to USAG Bavaria to make your October 31st spooktacular!