Pfingsten (Pentecost) – A Holiday Observed in Germany

“Pfingstrose”

Today is ‘Pfingstsonntag’ (Pentecost Sunday) and unless you attend a church service you most likely won’t know about it. Unlike Germany, the US doesn’t observe this day as a holiday.  In Germany on the other hand even ‘Pfingstmontag’ (the Monday following Pentecost Sunday) is part of the holiday and offices, markets etc. are closed.

For us as children growing up in Germany, ‘Pfingsten’ meant starting a two-week vacation and once ‘Pfingstferien’, Pentecost vacation, was over, we knew the end of the school year was near as well. ‘Pfingsten’ with its warmer and sunnier weather rang in the summer for us, even if the date didn’t coincide with the official date of the summer solstice.

Commonly used expressions that incorporate ‘Pfingsten’ are the ‘Pfingstochse’ and the ‘Pfingstrose’. A ‘Pfingstochse’ we call someone, who is far overdressed and seems to be adorned like the ox, that was leading its herd to the green pastures in the mountains for the first time in the year and, as part of this tradition, was festively adorned with bows, bells and such.

‘Pfingstrose’ is the flower ‘peony’ in English. Even though not actually a rose the ‘Pfingstrose’ is reminiscent of a rose in its beauty and color, and most of the time starts flowering just about the time when Pentecost is happening.

Frohe Pfingsten!

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Image: ©CaliforniaGermans


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