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Corpus Christi Day

Corpus Christi Day 2018 and 2019

Corpus Christi Day is mostly celebrated by Roman Catholics in Germany in honour of the Eucharist, which is the Holy Communion and last supper Jesus had with his disciples. In 2018, it falls on Thursday 31 May.

YearDateDayHolidayStates
201831 MayThuCorpus ChristiBW, BY, HE, NW, RP, SL,
SN & TH
201920 JunThuCorpus ChristiBW, BY, HE, NW, RP, SL,
SN & TH
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Corpus Christi Day is also known as Fronleichnam in Germany. Fronleichnam means Body of the Lord in old German. It 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 each 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.