Day of Repentance and Prayer 2022: public holiday in which federal state?

Unlike many other holidays such as Christmas or Easter, the Protestant Day of Repentance and Prayer does not refer to a biblical story, but has a long and eventful history. It was decreed by the state authorities and was intended to serve as a day of penance in times of war, famine and other hardships.

When is Repentance and Prayer Day 2022 in Germany?

This year, the Day of Repentance and Prayer falls on November 18, a Wednesday. Since this is a so-called moveable holiday, it falls on a different date each year. The reason for this is that the Day of Repentance and Prayer is celebrated every year on the Wednesday before the last Sunday of the church year in November – which means it is exactly eleven days before Advent.

Who has the Day of Repentance and Prayer off and is it a public holiday?

From 1981 to 1994, the day of prayer and prayer was a public holiday for the whole of Germany, and workers in other countries with a predominantly Catholic population also had a day off. However, the holiday was canceled in 1995. In this way, the employer’s contribution to long-term care insurance should be absorbed. Today, the Day of Repentance and Prayer is a public holiday in only one federal state, namely Saxony.

In these federal states you have the Day of Repentance and Prayer free

As already mentioned, the day of prayer and prayer as an official holiday in Germany has been canceled almost everywhere. Only one federal state still celebrates it today and can look forward to a day off. In addition, there are special exemptions in some federal states:

  • Saxony (public holiday)
  • Bavaria (All students are free due to an exception.)
  • Berlin (Due to an exception, Protestant students are free to decide for themselves on this day whether they want to go to school or not.)
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Incidentally, adults are not free. This also applies to teachers who have no lessons but are not off duty. They use the time for further training or pedagogical days, for example. All other employees must go to work regularly.

In these federal states, the Day of Repentance and Prayer is not a public holiday

  • Baden-Wuerttemberg
  • Bavaria
  • Berlin
  • Brandenburg
  • Bremen
  • Hamburg
  • Hesse
  • Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania
  • Lower Saxony
  • North Rhine-Westphalia
  • Rhineland-Palatinate
  • Saarland
  • Saxony-Anhalt
  • Schleswig Holstein
  • Thuringia

Exceptions to the Day of Repentance and Prayer

The exemptions in Bavaria and Berlin keep causing discussions. While the students are happy about their day off, the parents not only have to work as normal, but in many cases also have to find alternative childcare – because numerous daycare centers and after-school care centers are also closed on school-free days. For this reason, the Day of Repentance and Prayer is often associated with a great deal of planning and stress. In order to provide relief, many church communities and companies help out with special childcare.

What is the Day of Repentance and Prayer anyway?

Originally, the evangelical day of repentance and prayer goes back to times of need, so it is not a specific biblical event that took place on a specific day in the calendar. These days were proclaimed at regular intervals to call on the population to repent and pray when emergencies and dangers arose. Since the end of the 19th century, there has been a general day of repentance and prayer on the Wednesday before Eternal Sunday, i.e. the last Sunday of the church year. The Day of Repentance and Prayer is about repentance for committed sins and a return to belief in God.

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Times of penance already took place in antiquity – in Rome, for example, there were the “feriae piaculares” to avert distress and the danger of war. In the Middle Ages, two days of penitence were particularly present: one was ordered by the authorities and the other resulted from the ecclesiastical order.

In the German territories of the 19th century there were many different dates for days of penance and prayer – according to the Evangelical Church in Baden In 1878 there were 47 different days of repentance and prayer in 28 German states, which took place over 24 days. This large number arose because each church district instituted its own days of penance.

Starting with the so-called Eisenach Conference in the middle of the 19th century, a uniform day of penitence was finally set up. In Germany, however, this did not become established until 1934. From there it took place on the Wednesday before the last Sunday of the church year. Only during the Second World War was it temporarily moved to a Sunday.

What does long-term care insurance have to do with the day of repentance and prayer?

Since 1994, the Day of Repentance and Prayer has no longer been a public holiday in Germany, except in Saxony. It was abolished in favor of co-financing long-term care insurance, which was introduced as compulsory insurance in 1995. Employers were financially burdened as a result. In order to compensate for this burden, politicians decided, despite resistance from the church, to abolish the day of prayer and repentance as a public holiday.

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Only the Saxon state government had advocated maintaining the day off. To compensate for this, the Saxon employees have to pay 0.5 percent more of their gross salary into the long-term care insurance.


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