Buß- und Bettag Explained!

This week we have a holiday that you may not have heard about. Wednesday, November 21st is Buß- und Bettag. This Day of Atonement and Reconciliation is a day to reconsider your direction in life and reorientation. It is a day to turn to God as the church year comes to an end and we move towards Advent.

The origin of this day is rooted in the Book of Jonah in the Bible. God sends the prophet Jonah in order to announce to the inhabitants of Nineveh that God is to overthrow the city. The people of Nineveh proclaimed a fast, put on sackcloth, and sat in ashes. The people were told to turn from their evil ways and violence and repent. God saw this and spared them.

Up until 1995, it was a national holiday. In 1995, the holiday was almost completely abolished in favor of financing nursing care insurance in Germany. All states agreed to abolish the public holiday, except Saxony. As of today, only Saxony recognizes November 22 as a public holiday.

While shops and schools are closed in Saxony, what does this day mean for the rest of Germany? Most people, Saxony residents included, will quietly reflect and repent. It’s important to look forward with positivity for the times to come. Many families will also start their Christmas preparations on this day. It’s a nice day to start the first batches of Christmas cookies and biscuits.