Over the past few decades, Halloween has become increasingly popular in Germany! The celebration of all things ghoulish, creepy and spooky has gained much traction in the country. It may not be celebrated on such a grand scale as it is in the United States, but German children still love it! These children have discovered the delights of trick-or-treating! While this tradition originated in the United States, Germans still love dressing up in spooky or funny costumes! They yell, “Süßes, oder es gibt saures!” Loosely translated, this phrase means, “Sweets, or there’ll be something sour!” It’s very similar to the American tradition, but with a suß (sweet) German twist!
A Different Kind of Oktoberfest
Prior to the 1990s, Halloween was not commonly observed in Germany. The fright fest with Celtic roots was, unfortunately, a uniquely American party. Then, in 1991, Karneval festivities in February were abruptly canceled due to the start of the first Gulf War. The producers of costumes, candies and toys had to think of other opportunities to sell their wares to Germans. What better way to do this than to celebrate Halloween in October? After all, it was already very popular in the United States! Halloween in October was warmly welcomed, and the ghoulish celebration is now (almost) as popular as Oktoberfest! This is especially true when it comes to the party circuits in clubs and discos!
While too old to trick or treat, teenagers in Germany enjoy throwing Halloween parties. These parties are very similar to those hosted by teenagers in the U.S. Popular beverages that are served on Halloween are hot apple punch and cold “blood punch.” This blood punch is made out of grape juice, rum and lemon juice served in a carved out pumpkin! This is acceptable in Germany due to the drinking age being much lower for teenagers than in the U.S. Like many other countries around the world, Germans have their own special Halloween snacks and dishes! For example, spicy deviled eggs or pumpkin soup are very popular even among German youth!
Arguably, the coolest partei (party) takes place at Frankenstein’s castle (Burg Frankenstein) near Darmstadt! This 12th century walled fortress was built out of stone to defend the pristine wine regions. It is located in the Rhineland Palatinate, and there were many invading armies against which it needed to defend. Allegedly, Mary Shelley visited this castle and was inspired in part by it! Combining the influence of this castle with a 17th century alchemist who practiced his art on human corpses, her famous novel about the Frankenstein monster came alive. Although this story is disputed, the castle serves as a venue for over 20,000 dressed up ghosts and goblins! The Burg restaurant also serves a special Gruseldinner on October 31.
German Halloween Song: Der Ur-Ur Enkel von Frankenstein (the great-great grandchild of Frankenstein) by Frank Zander