How to celebrate Germany’s historic House Music Day

For almost a century, Germany has celebrated "House Music Day" on November 22nd. Contrary to how it may sound, it's nothing to do with electronic dance music, but a day to rediscover the joys of singing and playing instruments together at home.

A very musical family in Saxony, Löbnitz district.
A very musical family in Saxony, Löbnitz district. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Waltraud Grubitzsch

Every year near the end of November, music lovers across Germany are encouraged to revive the centuries-old tradition of group singing and musical performances at home or in small social gatherings.

In the Middle Ages, singing together after work gave rise to many folk songs that are still sung today, and in the 18th and 19th centuries, piano and singing lessons were especially popular for young bourgeois women. 

READ ALSO: Music to our ears: The top 10 melodic German phrases

In an effort to revive these customs, the German government declared “Tag der Hausmusik” an official day of celebration in 1932. 

The choice of date is no coincidence, as it falls on the feast day of Saint Cecilia, the patron Saint of Music. The popular legend is that Cecilia, forced to marry against her will, “sang in her heart to the Lord” as the musicians played at her wedding. She later became a martyr and then a Saint, and her feast day is celebrated in Christian countries all over the world.

A painting of St. Cecilia by John William Waterhouse, 1895. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

How is House Music Day celebrated?

With the invention of analogue and digital music playing devices, the tradition of creating music at home decreased significantly. Nowadays, the only regular group singing events tend to be when it’s someone’s birthday, or when it comes to singing Christmas Carols. 

However, new formats such as living room concerts and platforms such as SofaConcerts, which convey small concerts in private rooms to musicians, aim to revive the practice of house music today in a modern form. 

Mother and daughter make music at home in Düsseldorf. Photo: picture-alliance/ dpa | Horst Ossinger

Of course, since the start of the pandemic, many musicians have been moving their concerts online, and swapping big stages for their living rooms.

Although it’s officially a nationwide holiday, in recent years House Music Day has been mostly only celebrated in Lower Saxony. In 2014, Musikland Niedersachsen launched „Heimvorteil“ a campaign to encourage people to make music in their own homes, which continues every year. 

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Living in Germany: Facing up to racism, Erdbeersaison and Schleswig-Holstein votes

In our weekend roundup for Germany we explore a study on racism, strawberry season and take a look at the state election in Schleswig-Holstein.

Living in Germany: Facing up to racism, Erdbeersaison and Schleswig-Holstein votes

Can Germany face up to its racism problem?

Many of you have told of us about the discrimination and racism you’ve faced in Germany, particulary when it comes to trying to find a place to rent and in working life. So we were interested to report on a study on how people in Germany perceive the issue of racism.

According to the survey by the newly set up Racism Monitor more than a fifth of the population (22 percent) – said they had been affected by racism, and 45 percent said they had seen racist incidents. And nearly all respondents to the survey – 90 percent – said they believed that racism existed in the country.

Tareq Alaows, a Syrian refugee who hoped to run for German parliament last year but changed his mind due to racism and threats, tweeted that the study was a “wake-up call to our society to finally look and recognise racism as the danger it is”. He said the study also showed the “anti-racist potential in society”.“This must open the debate and move us all to action,” Alaows said. 

Tweet of the week

Sometimes you just have to take a break from the big problems of the world and tweet about Star Wars. We see you, German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann. 

Where is this? 

Photo: DPA/Daniel Bockwoldt

We hear a lot about Spargelzeit (asparagus season) in spring, but what about Erdbeersaison? Yes, strawberry season is underway as this photo from Grömitz in Schleswig-Holstein shows. Starting from now and throughout summer, you can expect to see strawberry ‘pop-up’ shops around the country on the side of roads and on streets.

And it’s not just strawberries they sell. You will also come across boxes of fresh blueberries and, later in the season, Pfifferlinge (chanterelle) mushrooms. We thoroughly recommend that you get out into the countryside and pick up some fresh produce in the coming weeks and months. 

Did you know?

The northern state of Schleswig-Holstein will elect a new parliament on Sunday, May 8th so we thought we’d look at what makes this northern state tick politically. With 2.9 million residents, the state, between the North Sea and Baltic Sea, is the second smallest German state after Saarland.

Christian Democrat Daniel Günther has led the state since the last election in 2017. He governs with the Greens and the Free Democrats (FDP) and is standing for re-election. Recent polls put the CDU in the lead, so this constellation could return. But other coalitions are possible. Important topics for this state include green energy – the state has been racing ahead with its wind energy production and, according to experts, it wants to show how it is key to Germany getting away from relying on Russian energy.

Thanks for reading,

Rachel and Imogen @ The Local Germany 

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