Everyone’s heard of Oktoberfest, but there are a couple other important German holidays coming up this month. Today, for example, is the Tag der Deutschen Einheit (Unity Day), which commemorates the formal reunification of East and West Germany in 1990 (though the Berlin Wall came down on November 9, 1989, that day also marks the anniversary of Kristallnacht in 1938; it was therefore deemed inappropriate for a national holiday). Official celebrations take place in a different city each year, depending on which Bundesland (or federal state) presides over the Bundesrat (federal council). This year’s festivities will take place in Schwerin, a city in the north of Germany and the capital of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
Here in the United States, there’s a holiday coming up on October 6 known as German-American Day. First proclaimed by President Reagan in 1983, it was formally approved by Congress in 1987 to recognize the many contributions that German immigrants have made over the course of the country’s history. In fact, more that a quarter of the U.S. population (myself included) is of German descent. There are celebrations in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and at clubs and organizations across the country.