Today was Germany’s national holiday: der Tag der Deutschen Einheit (German Unity Day). It commemorates the reunification of Western and Eastern Germany in 1990.
How do German people celebrate German Unity Day?
In comparison to other countries however, the Germans are relatively uninterested in their national holiday. There are celebrations and the media are speaking about it but that was. When I was a child, in France, I was very excited about the French national day because there were beautiful fireworks to celebrate the national day. In Germany, I never met anyone getting excited over the German national day. As today was a Saturday, I hardly noticed that we had a holiday at all.
Why are people not celebrating more?
There are several reasons why German people do not get that emotional about their national day.
First, patriotism is a complicated concept in Germany. For many German people, it is difficult to say that they are proud of their country because of the shadow of the country’s nazi past.
Second, the German reunification was at the beginning a great source of joy for German people but with the time, a part of the German people have become critical of it. As Eastern and Western Germany were reunified in 1990, both countries had a very different economic system. The DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik , in English German Democratic Republic) had a communist system and was much poorer that Western Germany. The BRD (Bundesrepublik Deutschland or in English Federal Republic of Germany) was a democracy, had a capitalist system and was very wealthy.
The reunification was not easy. Eastern Germany still has not reached the economic level of Western Germany. Eastern Germans often feel that Western Germans scorn them. Some are even nostalgic of the DDR. There is even a German word for this: Ostalgie. If you want to learn more about that, you can watch Good Bye Lenin, which has made the concept of Ostalgie popular. Western Germans, on the other side, have been paying reunification taxes since the reunification and many are fed up with paying for Eastern Germany.