My November started off with the ceremonial tradition of the catholic priest sprinkling water among the graves in the cemetary known as the Allerheiligen. Why? Becasue the month of November is dedicated to remembering the dead. It's known as the "sadness month" which is why you won't see any Christmas decorations being put up throughout this month of rememberance. November also has several religious and National German holidays including the fall of the Berlin wall (Mauerfall) on November 3rd, St. Martins Day (Martinstag) and the Karneval in Cologne which are both on November 11th, and lastly the day of mourning (Volkstrauertag) on November 17.
In Nordhein-Westfallen this day is a Feiertag which means the state recognizes it as a holiday so all schools and buisnesses had this Friday off. As I said above, at around 7 p.m. everyone in my town came together in the cemetary, which is right outside the church, to light candles for their loved ones as they watched the priest perform this short ceremony. The city band that I am in played during this tradition. Not every state recognizes this day, so many German citizens went about their day as normal. In fact, there are mny days throughout the year where certain states will have a day off while the neighboring state doesn't.
The Fall of the Berlin Wall was a monumental day in German's history where the border between the East and West side was torn down after 30 years of separation. This was a symbol (and forshadowing) of how Germany would later be united in 1990. This year (2019) marks the 30th anniversary of this monumental day. There were big celebrations this year at the historical Brandenburg gate which included a light show, cars paths through the city, Snapchat even created a one day filter for this event that was only functional at the Brandenburg gate. Of course, city officials gave speeches and there were historical markers in order to remember those whos lives were lost attempting to cross. Pieces of the wall are in museums now as a token of rememberance so that there may never again be another wall.
Saint Martin was a saint here in Germany from the years 316-297 B.C.. His most famous legend was the story of how he helped a homeless man on the streets survive a dreadfully cold night by giving the man his own cloak. This day is celebrated by kids making and lighting up their own laterns. They then form a processional with "Saint Martin" leading on a horse so that they can gather around a big bonfire afterwards to sing songs of great Martin and eat sweet treats. My personal town even has the annual tradition for a single family to perform a re-enactment of this legend around the bonfire. Treats were then provided by a local organization.
The Cologne Carnival begins exatly on the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month during the year (11-11-19 at 11:11). This is a huge event where people spends hundreds of dollars on costumes, tickets for rides, food, souviners, and even plane tickets to be able to go to the opening of this event.
This day is known as the "mourning day" or "day of sadness" and is a time to remember the soldiers and civilians that lost their lives during WWI. The night before, there was a sermon in the church dedicated to remembering those lost. On the day of, there was a speech given outside of the church with soldiers on either side of the short pathway two with flaming torches. My band played short songs, including the German national anthym before we all marched a short processional through the town.