Not a Good Friday for dancing

Yesterday I found out something I thought at first was an April Fool – public dancing events / activities are illegal throughout Germany on Good Friday. So if you were hoping to go clubbing late last night or this evening – forget it! The fact that it has taken me over twelve years of living here to discover this must attest to how often – cough! – I go dancing…

There are other days that have a similar prohibition in place, but it  varies among the laender, with the more Catholic ones like Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg having the most such days. Good Friday is the only day with a nationwide prohibition.

Despite appearances – at least as I see it in this case – the German constitution forbids the identification of the state with any particular religious group, for reasons of neutrality. On the other hand, if you are Catholic, Lutheran or Jewish you pay “church tax” on top of your income tax. Individual religious freedom is, as you would expect, protected by the constitution, but in contrast to some other countries, an individual’s choice to practise a particular religion is not seen as exclusively part of his or her private life but is part of a person’s public role within society. This, it would seem, is what makes it possible for (at least some) German courts to prohibit e.g. female Muslim teachers at state schools from wearing the hijaab, since as employees of the state they are required to be neutral in their public role.

I think it’s going to take me more than another twelve years to make sense of all this…

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4 Comments

Filed under Intercultural & interlinguistic

4 responses to “Not a Good Friday for dancing

  1. 2010photography

    Very interesting post Bexxi. I had no idea.
    Love the image. It portrays post spot on.

  2. There is no real separation of religion and state in Germany. There is no state church and freedom of religion is guaranteed in the Grundgesetz (constitution). But the Christian Churches and the state have a lot of connections and dependencies.

    It is a mess – and I try to understand it some more decades than you. 😉

    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trennung_von_Religion_und_Staat#Deutschland

  3. Ian

    It isn’t actually the same in the whole of Germany, it depends on what state you live in. However Karfreitag, as far as I remember, is the only one that is actually observed in all states but with varying times.

    The Tanzverbot, which is based upon the Grundgesetz (constitution, specifically GG 140) and the Weimarer Reichsverfassung (Weimarer constitution, I think it was par. 139) and isn’t by law only for religious (or any specific religion) events, but can also apply to for example the Volkstrauertag.

    There was a petition in BaWue in 2004 that was denied, that was in favor of getting rid of the Tanzverbot. Sadly, since then nothing has changed 😦

    Rolf is right, the Grundgesetz doesn’t say too much about religion (the Tanzverbot is based upon “moral”) – but take a look at the current state constitution of Baden-Wuerrtemberg :O

  4. Thanks ever so much for the extra information and links on this – it continues to fascinate, baffle and frustrate me that this is (still) in place.

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