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Repentance Day

Repentance Day 2017 and 2018

One of Germany’s lesser-known, but still appreciated holidays is known as Repentance Day.

YearDateDayHolidayStates
201715 NovWedRepentance DaySN
201814 NovWedRepentance DaySN

Traditionally, it falls on the last Wednesday before November twenty-third and eleven days before Advent begins. As the name suggests, Repentance Day is a time of quiet reflection, prayer, and seeking of forgiveness for wrongdoing.

Repentance Day began in 1878 in the state of Saxony, Germany, and Saxony remains the main place where it is most celebrated. It is known primarily as a Protestant holiday, though it also boasts Catholic roots. In fact, the holiday was primarily Catholic until 1878, but did not have a set date or time on the Catholic calendar.

The ways in which Repentance Day is observed can vary from region to region and house to house. Many Protestants may attend church but may also take the opportunity for a day of rest and reflection in their own homes. It is also possible that regional, state, and national sins might be repented of on this day.

For example, German and Austrian Christians might use this day to repent of the Holocaust, showing regret if their ancestors did not show solidarity with, or protect, Jewish neighbors. Since Repentance Day is quite close to Advent, celebrants may also rejoice in the birth, life, and death of Christ, as well as His grace toward their sins.