For Catholics, Corpus Christi is an important religious holiday. The faithful celebrate one of the most important sacraments of the Catholic Church: the Eucharist, i.e. the presence of Jesus Christ.
You can read here about the importance of the so-called high festival and where in Germany you don’t have to work on Corpus Christi.
When does Corpus Christi take place this year?
Corpus Christi always takes place on the second Thursday after Pentecost or 60 days after Easter. In 2023, the Corpus Christi festival falls on June 8th.
These are the next dates of Corpus Christi:
- June 8, 2023
- May 30, 2024
- June 19, 2025
- June 4, 2026
Where is Corpus Christi a public holiday?
Corpus Christi is a public holiday in eight federal states. In two of them, Saxony and Thuringia, but only in certain municipalities. In Germany, the definition of public holidays is left to the federal states. Only October 3rd is a federal public holiday.
In these federal states, Corpus Christi on June 8, 2023 is a public holiday and therefore a non-working holiday:
- North Rhine-Westphalia
- Saxony (regionally)
- Thuringia (regionally)
In contrast, in the more Protestant, northern and north-eastern federal states, Corpus Christi is not a public holiday.
By the way: Since Corpus Christi always falls on a Thursday, a bridging day is ideal for a long weekend.
But the bridging day also has its downside: the long weekend means that it gets crowded on German trunk roads.
Corpus Christi: what does the name mean?
Catholics have been celebrating Corpus Christi for several centuries. The name derives from the Middle High German word “vronlichnam”. This means the body (“lichnam”) of the Lord (“vron”). Corpus Christi means something like “celebration of the body of Christ”. In some regions, the high festival is also called Pillory Day or Blood Day.
What do you celebrate on Corpus Christi?
The origin of the feast of Corpus Christi is more likely to be found in the last supper. On Maundy Thursday, Jesus met his twelve apostles for the last time. As he shared the bread and wine with the disciples, he spoke the words: “This is my body” and “This is my blood”.
In the so-called Eucharist, the arrangement of the last supper is re-enacted by an authorized clergyman: At the end of the Holy Mass, the believers take Jesus in the form of the transformed bread, the host, and wine. On Corpus Christi, Catholics therefore not only celebrate the memory, but also the vitality of Jesus Christ.
Procession on Corpus Christi
In many Catholic communities, elaborately designed processions are held on Corpus Christi. During these processions, which begin after the services, the clergyman of the parish carries the monstrance with the host, i.e. the symbolic body of Christ, through the streets. The members sing and pray and celebrate that Jesus is with them.