Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Unity Day

Yesterday was the Day of German Unity.  In German: Tag der Deutschen Einheit.  The intended purpose of this public holiday......to celebrate the reunification of East and West Germany.

What happens on Unity Day?  Mostly nothing.

German government officials....mostly the upper crust folks of Berlin....will meet in some city to have a fest of sorts....usually some speeches, some opera music, and toasts to each other.  State-run TV will feature the event to the public, but I doubt if more than one million Germans (out of 82-million) watch the event.

For the typical average German.....this is the day that you clean your basement....take down wallpaper....visit your kin-folks....etc.

Yes, it is a holiday with minimum value to the typical average German.  The national TV folks might run special features to talk about the Wall, the evil DDR government, and how wonderful it was to see the unification of the two "countries".  But, to be honest and humble here....no one really thinks much of the holiday.

Before this?  You can go back to 2 September 1870 when the Kaiser invented Sedentag....a day to celebrate the victory of the Prussians over the evil French (French were evil in those days....or the public sentiment in Germany was that way).  Sedentag was supposed to reference important battle victory during the Prussian-French war.

After Prussia came into the status of "empire" in 1871....some folks sat down and thought about redoing the Sedentag.  Oddly, their solution was 18 January to be Sedentag.  Reasoning?  The Treaty of Frankfurt occurred on this day and it made perfect sense to have a holiday in the coldest period of winter.

In 1919, after the Kaiser has left Germany.....the authorities again sit down and discuss at length having a different day instead of 18 January.  Their pick is 18 August....which is the day that the new Constitution was wrapped up and finished.

After the war (starting in 1954), the next national holiday for the nation was set to 17 June.....to celebrate the uprising in East Germany that occurred and to show solidarity with their folks on the other side of the wall.  This 17 June holiday worked until 1990.....when they met and made the decision for 3 October.

A lot of shuffling around?  Yeah.  I think this is one of the weak points of Germany.  What you take away from this is that a number of political folks often meet, have a few beers, and discuss at length the need to change a holiday or update a holiday.  The odds that 3 October will remain?  I'd say it's a fifty-fifty chance that it'll be tossed within twenty-five years and another national holiday will be put into place.

So, when you are visiting a German associate on 3 October and expecting some fireworks, or patriotic marches....don't be surprised if they are replanting their sod, doing fall-clean-up, or changing the oil in their car.  It's just not that big of a deal.

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