With its intense natural colors beckoning you take long walks, fall is perhaps the most sentimental season of all. Between early September and late November, Germany recognizes a number of important days that focus not only on harvest time, but also on death and the past.
Each year in fall, the harvest festival is an opportunity to thank God for the fruits of the earth. Churches often hold special services and processions are held in some regions. Wheat, fruits and vegetables are decoratively displayed, along with other tasty seasonal items like honey and wine.
The world's biggest folk festival began in the year 1810 when a non-commissioned officer in the Bavarian National Guard proposed celebrating the wedding of Ludwig von Bayern and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. Similar festivals had been held in the fall before. At that time, beer was brewed twice a year and, in September, people drank the rest of the beer produced in the spring.
The Carnival season - affectionately known in the Rhineland region as the fifth season - officially begins at 11:11 on the 11th day of the 11th month. The real party doesn't happen until the weekend before Ash Wednesday, but November 11 is another opportunity to put on a costume, listen to folk music, and drink local beer.
On October 3, 1990, the five states of the German Democratic Republic were officially annexed to what had been West Germany - and the country was reunited. The day is marked each year with celebrations at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and many other locations around the country.
On November 11, Germany remembers the medieval Saint Martin. According to the legend, he split his cloak with a sword on a cold winter day and gave one half to a beggar. Today, children carry homemade lanterns from door to door, singing traditional Saint Martin songs and collecting sweets.
In recent years, Halloween has started to compete with the St. Martin tradition. On October 31, children and adults dress up in scary costumes and go door to door to collect treats. Some people put carved pumpkins in their doorways. What began as a pagan festival was later adopted by Christians, but history plays little role today and in Germany, Halloween isn't nearly as popular as in the US.
Though few people know much about it, churches, schools and the media remind Germany every year that Martin Luther published his famous 95 theses on October 31, 1517. The theologian and church reformer criticized the abuses and alienation of the Catholic Church with his statement and set the Reformation in motion.
On All Saints' Day on November 1, the Catholic Church has traditionally celebrated the saints and those who are to become saints. It's a more cheerful day than All Souls' Day on November 2 when people remember those who have passed away. Now, however, the two holidays are no longer distinguished and observers visit cemeteries with flowers and candles on November 1.
On Remembrance Day, a state-recognized memorial day, war casualties and victims of tyranny all over the world are remembered. One week later on the Sunday before Advent, so-called Totensonntag (Sunday in Commemoration of the Dead) takes place. This day was reserved in 1816 to remember the casualties of the Napoleonic War from 1813 to 1815.
This day goes back to the Reformation period when the Protestant Church recognized an official Penance Day, which was held on a variety of different dates and occasions. Back then, the entire population was called to repent in order to avoid sickness and war. In 1995, Penance Day was removed from Germany's list of public holidays, except in the state of Saxony.
The term "German Autumn" refers to fall 1977, which was marked in Germany by a series of terrorist attacks carried out by the left-wing extremist Red Army Faction (RAF). The group kidnapped and murdered German business executive Hanns-Martin Schleyer (pictured) in September and then hijacked Lufthansa flight 181, known as Landhut, in October.
In Germany, November is a month for remembrance, thanksgiving, and celebration.