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The equivalent of the American Thanksgiving holiday in Germany is Erntedankfest. Erntedankfest, meaning harvest thanksgiving festival, is observed on the first Sunday of October, unlike its American counterpart which is held on the fourth Thursday of November.
See the fact file below for more information on the Erntedankfest or alternatively, you can download our 25-page Erntedankfest worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- The Erntedankfest is a German Christian rural harvest festival celebrated by Catholics and Protestants.
- Erntedank literally translates as “harvest thanks.”
- The festival is a means of thanking God for the harvest and for the opportunity to rest after a season of hard work.
- Unlike Thanksgiving in America, Erntedankfest is a religious festival.
Date of Celebration
- As decreed by the Catholic church in 1972, the festival is observed on the first Sunday of October.
- It is held on the first Sunday after Michaelmas, or the Feast of St. Michael, because it has been long believed that harvest season ends by the time of Michaelmas.
- While most communities observe this fixed date of celebration, some follow the actual time they reap their harvest, which could be anytime in October.
- The Erntedankfest is celebrated alongside the wine festival in some areas in late November.
- In the United States, October 6 is celebrated as German-American day to coincide with the celebration of Erntedankfest.
Traditions in Rural Areas
- Baskets are filled with crops from the harvest and are arranged and offered at the altars of the church, which are later given to the poor.
- In rural areas, the festival is more like a country fair with neighborhood feasts and town parades.
- The main traditions of a rural Erntedankfest are attending mass, participating in parades, dressing up in traditional costume, and dancing to live music.
- The first church service is held in the morning and a second one is held in the evening.
- A song called “Nun Danket alle Gott” which means “Now thank we all our God” is traditionally sung in the service.
- Huge garlands made of grain called Erntekränze are displayed on doors.
- Big harvest crowns called Erntekrone are made of grain, adorned with ribbons and paper flowers, and put up on poles in town markets and barn roofs until they’re carried in parades called Umzügen.
- Sometimes the parade will also feature a Harvest Queen who wears a crown of wheat.
- Another ancient tradition is to protect the crops from the Grain Demon by weaving the last 3, 7, or 9 heads of grain and displaying it in the home.
- In Dusseldorf-Urdenbach, the celebration takes up to three days, from Friday to Sunday.
- On Friday people attend mass in Urdenbach.
- On Saturday, they set up a party tent in a fairground called Piel’s Loch where they dance to live music and beats.
- On Sunday, there is a concert in Piel’s Loch after mass. Local traditional food is served to everyone.
- The highlight of the whole festival is the Erntedank parade that takes place in the afternoon of the last day.
- The parade consists of tractors decorated with traditional agricultural tools, and locals marching through the streets of Urdenbach dressed up in traditional costumes.
- A whopping 40,000 spectators watch the parade.
- Throughout the weekend celebration, food booths and kiddies rides are scattered all over Dusseldorf.
- A traditional wheelbarrow race called Schürreskarrenrennen is held when the parade ends.
- Later that Sunday afternoon, locals and visitors are found all over Dusseldorf-Urdenbach celebrating. Some are in Piel’s Loch; some in their own houses; some at beer festivals.
Celebrations in Urban Places
- In urban places where the Church organizes and finances the festival, religious processions are done.
- In Berlin, the Erntedankfest lasts for an entire day at the end of September.
- The Johannesstift Church in Berlin begins the celebration with a morning church service followed by a procession and an exhibition of an Erntekrone in the afternoon.
- Locals serve and share food while there’s live music and dancing.
- There is another church service at 6 in the evening.
- After the service, children go from door to door in a lantern parade called Lanternumzug, which is also done in the evening after the church service.
- The ceremonies end with fireworks at around 7 at night.
- Other beer festivals are also held around the time of Erntedankfest, like the Munich Oktoberfest.
- Common food during Erntedankfest are harvested crops and bread.
- German food like rouladen is served, but there used to be no “traditional Erntedankfest food” like how it is in America with turkey, pumpkin pie, and mashed potatoes.
- Now, the tradition of turkey has found its way to Germany.
- If not turkey, Germans serve chicken or other roasted birds, like Masthühnchen (fattened chickens), Der Kapaun (castrated and fattened rooster), and Die Poularde (a sterilized and fattened hen).
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Erntedankfest across 25 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Erntedankfest worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the equivalent of the American Thanksgiving holiday in Germany which is Erntedankfest.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Erntedankfest Facts
- Giving Thanks
- A Date to Remember
- A German Program
- Erntedankfest Word Search
- German Vocabulary
- Tradition Time
- Food is Served
- Tell the Story
- What I’ve Learned
- My Own Erntekrone
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Link will appear as Erntedankfest Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, November 2, 2018
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.