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Corpus Christi Day

Corpus Christi Day 2017 and 2018

Corpus Christi Day, also known as Fronleichnam in Germany, is mostly celebrated by Roman Catholics in honor of the Eucharist, which is the Holy Communion and last supper Jesus had with his disciples.

YearDateDayHolidayStates
201715 JunThuCorpus ChristiBW, BY, HE, NW, RP, SL,
SN & TH
201831 MayThuCorpus ChristiBW, BY, HE, NW, RP, SL,
SN & TH

Fronleichnam means Body of the Lord in old German and is celebrated on the Thursday that is 60 days after Easter Sunday and 10 days after Pentecost.

Corpus Christi was not always observed with a feast. In the early 13th century, a nun by the name of Juliana of Liege said that she was having visions of Christ. Her visions claimed that God told her that there should be a feast to celebrate the Holy Communion. During this time period, bishops could order special suppers as they wished, so in 1246, the Bishop of Liege did just that. In 1264, Pope Urban IV made this feast mandatory for Catholics to remember Jesus’s last supper.

On this day, a church service is attended where the sacrament is blessed and then taken around the city by priests and other church followers in a monstrance, usually under a baldachin. There are four stops along the way that represent the four stops Christ had to make before reaching the cross. The city is decorated in flowers and signs, and children dress up for the occasion and wear flower wreaths. The parade continues with singing and prayer and ends at a church or public area where a service is given to the attendees.

One custom that takes place on this day is a convoy of ships in Cologne near the Rhine River. How this custom came to be is not known, but this tradition has been going on in Germany since 1435.

In Germany, Corpus Christi Day is not a public holiday in all states, but it is in Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Saarland, Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia, Sachsen and Thuringia.