Halloween in Germany isn’t anywhere near the spectacle that happens in the USA, but it cannot be said that Germans don’t celebrate it. We just celebrate it differently. Mostly in a quite way.
How did Halloween come to Germany?
For Germany it is not a celebration that is native to the culture, it was appropriated from America. Through the post-war presence of Americans in Germany, but also through Hollywood movies and TV-series, Halloween is known in Germany for some time now. But only in the 1990s Halloween became a popular celebration. Why at that time? Well, because of the first gulf war in 1991, the carnival celebration (Germans are really devoted to it) was cancelled. That lead to huge economical loses for the industries like costume or candy-factories. To get new sources of income, the Carnival Group of the German Association of the toy industry tried to find a solution, which was Halloween. “In 1994, Halloween was largely unknown in Germany, But then we began promoting the event. And it took off.” Dieter Tschorn, the spokesman of the association, told the German news magazine Spiegel Online. Since than the celebration has grown more and more popular in Germany.
But how do Germans celebrate Halloween?
Let me give you an insight how Halloween in Germany looks like. In the pre-halloween-time you can find a lot of Halloween decoration and candies in the supermarkets. Shops as well as some homes decorate in Halloween-theme and you can buy Halloween decoration and costumes in department stores. The costumes usually come in a scary, horror or bloody theme like zombies, vampires or witches. People also like to fake injuries and put artificial blood on the clothes. If you can’t find the right costume, you can try looking for it in carnival costumes specialized shops.
You wouldn’t have troubles finding pumpkins as well, thou you would not see many carved ones. Pumpkins are a popular ingredient in the seasonal German cuisine, so its easy to find them in the daily markets, supermarkets or in farmers’ shops. However the custom to carve faces is not so common and most Germans have never done it.
What is done on the actual Halloween day in Germany?
Not many children ask for candy. And if they do the children would say “Süßes oder Saures” when they knock on the door to ask for candy. But the trick-or-treat aspect of Halloween is not very widely spread unless you live near an American settlement or a big city where it is also not commonly practiced. So don’t buy to much candies to give to children knocking at your door. For me it just happened three times. Many Germans (especially the older generations) don’t like the trick-ot-treat aspect of Halloween and wouldn’t not open doors to strangers. But what is more aggravating to the people is the ‘treat’. Teenagers or children throwing eggs or tomatoes on the house, when people didn’t have candies, didn’t open the door or when not at home, is a growing problem. You may can imagen that it’s no fun to remove eggs fron the paint of the house. Moreover most Germans think of it as a very rude action.
Nonetheless you will find some people dressed up in scary-themed costumes on the street. The teens and adults are mostly on their way to one of the popular growing themed Halloween parties in clubs or private parties. There are even special Halloween parties organized at castles and forts like Schloss Heidelberg, Burg Frankenstein or Burg Satzvey or at theme parks like Heide Park and Movie Park. The vampires and the zombies there will give you goosebumps and have your heart jump out of your chest. It’s really worth a visit.
If you’re not a party animal you can also stay at home and watch horror movies which are broadcasted on TV in the evening and at night.
And the best thing is, that in some parts of Germany 1st November (the All Saints-Day) is a holiday, so you can sleep in after a night of celebration.