Reformation day

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Flyer for the first jubilee year (1617) of the publication of Martin Luther's theses

The Reformation Day , the Reformation Festival or the Remembrance Day of the Reformation is celebrated by Protestant Christians in Germany and Austria on October 31st in memory of the Reformation of the church by Martin Luther . In Switzerland , the first Sunday in November is the Reformation Sunday , which is also related to the Reformation in Wittenberg .

Origin and history

According to tradition, the monk and theology professor Martin Luther is said to have posted 95 theses in Latin on indulgences and penance on the door of the castle church in Wittenberg on the evening before All Saints' Day in 1517 in order to bring about an academic disputation . With that he initiated the Reformation of the Church. In essence, he denied the prevailing view that salvation from sin was possible through indulgence in the form of monetary payment. This had already happened through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross .

Luther had sent his theses in letter form to several spiritual dignitaries and bishops of the empire . When the bishops did not react, he is said to have posted the 95 theses on the castle church in Wittenberg. However, whether the theses were actually posted has not been proven beyond doubt and is controversial. The church historian Thomas Kaufmann considers Luther's work An den Christian Adel deutscher Nation (1520) to be much more important than the theses anyway.

There were individual annual celebrations as early as the century of the Reformation. First of all, November 10th and February 18th (Luther's birthday and death) were also celebrated as days of remembrance. In addition, June 25th, as the day of the Augsburg Confession, was a feast day.

17th to 19th century

For the secular celebration in 1617, the posting of the theses was commemorated in most of the Lutheran and Reformed areas. From 1667, Elector Johann Georg II of Saxony set October 31 as the commemorative date for all Protestants and thus established the connection to Luther's legendary theses at the Wittenberg Castle Church.

After the anniversaries in 1717 and 1817, the Reformation Festival continued to prevail. B. in Prussia.

20th century

In Germany, in addition to the regional, historically grown differences, there were also major upheavals - some highlights:

Until October 21, 1921, Reformation Day was already a nationally recognized public holiday in Thuringia, but was overridden by an emergency law of the Thuringian State Ministry without consulting the state parliament.

Until 1966 the holiday was celebrated in most of the districts of the GDR .

21st century

In the first two decades of the 21st century, Reformation Day became a public holiday in some historically Protestant German states.


The Reformation Day service usually takes place on the evening of October 31st where the day is not a public holiday. His topic is less the memory of the posting than the doctrine of the justification of sinner through faith alone, which for Luther was the trigger and core of the Reformation movement. The epistle reading of the day is therefore Rom 3: 21–31  LUT , Gospel Mt 5,2–10  LUT .

The song of the day is either Now rejoice, dear Christians , Luther's “narrative song ” from his Reformation discovery ( EG 341), or If God is for me, then step everything against me by Paul Gerhardt (EG 351). Hardly any Reformation service ends without Luther's A strong castle is our God (EG 362).

The liturgical color is red, the color of the Holy Spirit and the Church .

Legal status as a public holiday or day off from school


Reformation Day was already a public holiday in 12 of 15 districts in the GDR until it was abolished with the introduction of the five-day week in 1967. In 1990 it was reintroduced by the last GDR government .

Reformation Day on October 31 since the German reunification statutory holiday in the German countries Brandenburg , Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania , Saxony , Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia as well (since 2018) in Bremen , Hamburg , Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein . In Baden-Württemberg there is no school on Reformation Day, but it is often in the autumn holidays anyway . In Lower Saxony, Protestant pupils previously had the option of being exempt from teaching for the duration of a church service upon request. In other countries with a larger Protestant population, the day often has a special legal status, which is comparable to the status of the silent days .

In 2017, the 500th year of the beginning of the Reformation, October 31 was an all-German public holiday. To this end, all federal states in which Reformation Day is normally not a public holiday had passed laws or ordinances that declared October 31, 2017 a public holiday: Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria , Berlin , Bremen, Hamburg, Hesse , Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia , Rhineland-Palatinate , Saarland and Schleswig-Holstein.

On February 2, 2018, the Prime Ministers of Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony, the President of the Senate of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen and the First Mayor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg recommended Reformation Day in Berlin at a special meeting of the Conference on North Germany (KND) ruled federal states as a public holiday. The respective state parliaments had to decide on implementation. On February 22, 2018, the Schleswig-Holstein State Parliament decided to introduce Reformation Day as a public holiday. The Hamburg citizenship followed on February 28, 2018, the Lower Saxony state parliament on June 19, 2018 , and the Bremen citizenship the next day .


In Switzerland, the Reformed Churches celebrate Reformation Sunday on the first Sunday in November (i.e. the first Sunday after October 31) . The service is usually associated with the celebration of the Lord's Supper (a sermon service is usually held on ordinary Sundays).


In predominantly Catholic Austria, the day is not a public holiday. However, on October 31st, Protestant students have the opportunity to take time off from school, and Protestant employees can attend the service, provided that this is compatible with the requirements of the company.

Slovenia and Chile

Furthermore, Reformation Day is a public holiday in Slovenia and Chile .

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Discussion about the posting of the theses as a result of the discovery of a note in the estate of Luther assistant Georg Rörer in 2007 in the library of the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena , Did Martin Luther hit his 95 theses on Wittenberg church doors on October 31, 1517, or is is this a legend? , accessed October 29, 2008.
  2. Benjamin Hasselhorn , Mirko Gutjahr: fact! The truth about Luther's posting of the theses. Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, Leipzig 2018, ISBN 978-3-374-05638-5 ( publisher presentation ).
  3. Historians: Luther's posting of the theses is a fact. Evangelical Church in Central Germany, October 10, 2018.
  4. ^ Thomas Kaufmann: Luther's Copernican turn. What do the Protestants actually want to celebrate in 2017? The 95 theses? Much more important is Luther's teaching on the priesthood of all. It distinguishes the Evangelical Church from Catholicism. Even when dealing with money. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . October 28, 2013, No. 250, p. 7.
  5. ( Memento of the original from January 27, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  6. Theological Real Encyclopedia . Volume 11, 1983, p. 128.
  7. Silvio Reichelt: The Luther City Wittenberg Adventure Space: Genesis, Development and Consistency of a Protestant Place of Remembrance. 2013, p. 84 (online)
  8. ^ Collection of laws for Thuringia, edition of October 27, 1921.
  9. s. a. Holidays in the GDR ; Michael Kühne: The Minutes of the Eastern Church Conference 1945–1949. P. 363.
  11. Page of the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs on holidays in Baden-Württemberg ( memento of the original from March 29, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  12. FTG § 4 Paragraph 3 Public Holidays Act of the State of Baden-Württemberg
  13. Why is Reformation Day 2017 a national holiday? In: , October 16, 2017.
  14. Law on Sundays and Public Holidays (Public Holidays Act - FTG) ArbZ 1.3.1
  15. Law amending the Public Holidays Act of April 12, 2016 ( GVBl, p. 50. )
  16. Berlin House of Representatives, plenary minutes, June 25, 2015
  17. Law amending the law on Sundays and public holidays , printed matter of the state parliament of May 7, 2013
  18. ^ Fifth ordinance to the Public Holidays Act (ordinance on Reformation Day 2017) of April 30, 2013
  19. Ordinance determining Reformation Day 2017 to be the public holiday of October 16, 2013 . In: Hessische Landesregierung (Hrsg.): Law and Ordinance Gazette for the State of Hesse . 2013 No. 25 , p. 566 ( online at the information system of the Hessian state parliament [PDF; 13.5 MB ]).
  20. ^ Lower Saxony law on public holidays (NFeiertagsG)
  21. Law on the determination of October 31, 2017 as the 500th anniversary of the Reformation as a public holiday in North Rhine-Westphalia of June 25, 2015 ( GV. NRW, p. 496. )
  22. Communication from the state government of November 17, 2015
  23. ^ Ordinance on the declaration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation on October 31, 2017 on the public holiday of June 18, 2014, Official Journal, p. 283,
  24. State ordinance on Reformation Day 2017 from November 24, 2014
  25. Reformation Day: Northern Germany should have a new public holiday. In: Spiegel Online . February 1, 2018, accessed June 9, 2018 .
  26. State Parliament SH - Item 07, 12 - Public Holidays Act / Reformation Day. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on June 19, 2018 ; accessed on February 28, 2018 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  27. Resolved: Reformation Day becomes a new holiday. In: NDR . June 19, 2018. Retrieved June 19, 2018 .
  28. ^ Law passed by citizenship: Reformation day becomes a public holiday in Bremen. In: Weser Courier . June 20, 2018, accessed June 20, 2018 .
  29. Evangelical Church in Austria, Questions & Answers, Good Friday and Reformation Day. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  30. Reformation Day - legal holiday


Web links

Wiktionary: Reformation Day  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations