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A festival is a special day, a social or religious ritual, or an event when people meet and socialize in a place at a special time.

The German word "Fest" comes from the Latin term festum for the celebration of designated time periods and is related to the Hebrew Moed , a fixed point in time for the encounter with God. A synonym is celebration (from Latin feriae , originally fesiae ). Both terms are rooted in fanum : the religious. During the festival, profane activities are mostly dormant . Festivals and celebrations divide time into cycles and periods, with which people try to make time and life manageable (cf. public holidays and after-work hours ).

Celebrations have a sociological effect - community-building and community-sustaining. Certain rituals (e.g. the feast ) strengthen social cohesion.

Celebrations stand out from everyday life through special customs that can also allow for a high level of emotionality (joy, enthusiasm, sympathy) and even ecstasy . So they can be based on a wild, anarchic or destructive moment, for example in carnival . According to Sigmund Freud , a festival is “a permitted, rather a required excess, a solemn breakthrough of a prohibition . It is not because people are in a happy mood as a result of some regulation that they commit excesses, but the excess lies in the essence of the festival; the festive atmosphere is created by releasing what is otherwise forbidden. ”A festival can also be very measured or solemn. So festivals in the Baroque period followed strict rules, some of which have been modified to our days (host, guest, festival program). Celebrations - especially expensive and large celebrations - also represent a kind of consumption of validity .

Celebrations have a representative and demonstrative aspect that makes them recognizable from the outside (for example in: procession , dance , drama , competitions ). You can visit them as a pilgrim or tourist and take part.


Set table for a children's birthday party

Celebrations recur and can be differentiated into


  • Winfried Gebhardt: Celebrations, celebrations and everyday life. About human social reality and its interpretation. Frankfurt / Bern / New York / Paris 1987.
  • Michael Maurer (Ed.): The festival. Contributions to his theory and systematics. Böhlau, Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2004.
  • Miriam Haller: The Festival of Signs. Spellings of the festival in modern drama. Böhlau, Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2002. (Cologne German Studies, New Series, Vol. 3). Zugl. Cologne, phil. Diss. 2001.
  • Manfred Knedlik and Georg Schrott (eds.): Solemnitas. Baroque festival culture in monasteries in Upper Palatinate. Kallmünz 2003.
  • Katrin Schuh (ed.): Architecture as culture. The importance of the buildings between festivities, celebrations and everyday life. Frankfurt a. M. 2003.

Individual evidence

  1. Sigmund [and]. Freud: totem and taboo. Some similarities in the soul life of savages and neurotics. Hugo Heller & Cie., Vienna 1913.

Web links

Wiktionary: Fest  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Celebrate  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files