Halloween for Trick-or-Treaters in Germany

Halloween and its custom of going trick-or-treat came to Germany in the late 90s. Since then, among some of the expat children out for trick-or-treat, there had been some unpleasant experiences. Not all Germans know or recognize Halloween, and if you do ring a stranger’s house, he might chase you away and then you are the one who’s scared. Angry German can sound pretty scary. ūüôā

I have been asked “How do I know it is safe and OK to ring the doorbell?”. It is safe and OK, if you see a Jack O’Lantern in front of the house. This is the sign you are welcome to ask for treats.

This information was given to me by a German mom for the Oberursel area.

Jack O'Lantern

Of course, I would always advise to go only to friends’ homes or other expats’ homes. Living the international school life, they are familiar with the custom.

Halloween in Germany

Halloween, a pagan celebration, is celebrated on the same day as Reformationstag. It is the day on which in 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg, critizising certain aspects of the Catholic Church and thus starting the Reformation in Germany.

It is a bank holiday mainly in the eastern part of the country. Click here to hear a simple explanation in German: http://bit.ly/uZTni0

In our western part of the country, namely the Rhein/Main area, which is more international and commercial, we also celebrate Halloween at the international school and at private get-togethers among expats.

Forget the religious part, we are only interested in the campfire and mulled wine, and talking with friends.

German schools do not have any Halloween celebrations as this would be in conflict with their mandatory Religious Instruction lessons. Students without a confession have to sit in Ethics class instead.

Our Jack-O-Lantern, carved by my husband, last night.


The Walpurgisnacht is celebrated on the 30th of April in Germany.  According to tradition, on this night witches from throughout the country fly to the Blocksberg for their annual gathering.

In many places bonfires are lit, and it is even a tradition in some parts for people to jump over it!

Other traditions are comparable to those at Halloween.  Since the 1990s the latter has become more popular in Germany, making the Walpurgisnacht less well-known, especially amongst foreigners.

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

(Press the ‚Äúplay‚ÄĚ button to listen to the podcast)

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