What is the significance of Totensonntag?

Grave lights: Many Protestants remember their deceased on Dead Sunday.

Grave lights: Many Protestants remember their deceased on Dead Sunday. (Source: ti-ja/getty-images-bilder)

Eternity Sunday is celebrated in November. It always takes place in the week before the 1st Advent. But where do the holiday and its customs come fromIn 2023, Dead Sunday falls on November 26th. Protestants also speak of Eternal Sunday, which is the counterpart to the Catholic All Souls Day.?

When is Dead Sunday?

Sunday of the Dead takes place every year on the last Sunday of the church year, the Sunday before the first Advent. The date always falls on a day between November 20th and 26th.

Is Dead Sunday a public holiday?

On Dead Sunday, Protestant Christians remember the dead. The official name of the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD) is “Eternity Sunday” or “Memorial Day of the Dead for the Commemoration of the Dead”.

Unlike Remembrance Day, the Sunday of the Dead is not legally established in Germany. But most people have no work because it is a Sunday.

Significance of the day of remembrance in the Protestant faith

In the Protestant faith, death and the hope of eternal life are associated on the Sunday of the Dead – which is why the holiday is also called Eternity Sunday. The exact name and the personal meaning should depend on each believer’s inner attitude towards death.

With Eternal Sunday, the Protestant Church wants to shift the focus away from death and transience. Instead, Christian values ​​such as hope and the idea of ​​eternity and resurrection should be the focus.

Is there a ban on dancing on Dead Sunday?

In Germany, Dead Sunday is one of the so-called “quiet holidays” or “quiet days”. On this day, all federal states prohibit public entertainment events, such as music, sports and also commercial events, on the basis of the public holiday law – at least for a certain period of time – unless they correspond to the “serious character” of the day.

However, the respective time periods differ. In Bavaria, for example, dancing is banned from 2 a.m. to midnight, in Berlin from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. and in Hamburg and Bremen only from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. In North Rhine-Westphalia it applies from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can find out the exact times for your state from your local office.

History: Why is there Dead Sunday?

The Sunday of the Dead or Eternity Sunday goes back to the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm III. back in the 19th century. In 1816 he introduced this holiday to “commemorate those who have fallen asleep”. The reason for this was probably the many deaths in the wars of liberation against Napoleon.

The day of remembrance quickly spread among church communities in Germany. Previously, unlike the Catholic year, the Protestant church year did not provide for a day to commemorate the dead.

Customs: What do you do on the Sunday of the Dead?

Whether religious or not – for many people in Germany, Sunday of the Dead has a personal meaning. They visit cemeteries, light candles and grave lights and decorate the graves of deceased relatives or friends.One of the customs for the Sunday of the Dead is that Protestant services are held in cemetery chapels. As the bell rings, the priest reads out the names of those who died in the previous church year. Relatives of the dead usually come to this service and light a candle. The sound of the bells is intended to remind believers of their own transience.


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