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The Global Marketer’s Guide to European Holidays

Written by: Carolyn Berk, Content Marketing Associate

Marketers looking to break into the European marketplace have a lot to learn in order to successfully target their social ads. Not only does the European market consist of a wide range of languages, cultures and religions, but each country also has its own list of unique holidays to consider. To make it easier to tailor your ads to each country, we’ve comprised the following list of European holidays and events that marketers need to know while planning out ad campaigns in 2016. 

January - European Holiday Guide for Marketing

January marks the start of the new year in Europe, but for some countries, it’s also a month of Christmas celebrations. Countries like Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Belarus, Macedonia and Montenegro recognize January 7th as the day that Jesus was born. As a result, these countries celebrate Christmas a few days after the rest of Europe. January is also a popular time for winter sports like skiing. In addition to buying sports gear and winter wear needed for this sport, people also travel to hit the slopes at popular skiing destinations like Switzerland.

Notable Dates

January 1 –New Year’s Day

January 7 – Orthodox Christmas Day (Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Belarus, Macedonia, Montenegro)

January 24 – Unification Day (Romania)

February - European Holiday Guide for Marketing

February usually marks the start of Lent, which is the first forty days before Easter. During this time, many Roman Catholics abstain from bodily pleasures, including eating meat. Europeans celebrate Mardi Gras, which calls for celebrating and indulgence before the start of Lent. In the UK, the day before Ash Wednesday (or the first day of Lent) is called Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day. Ash Monday (or Clean Monday as it’s known in Greece and Cyprus) occurs later in the month for followers of the Eastern Orthodox Church. February is also when some countries celebrate Valentines Day by giving flowers, cards, chocolates and other small gifts to their loved ones.

Notable Dates

February 14 – St. Valentine’s Day

February 15 – Sovereignty Day (Serbia)

February 16 – Restoration of the State Day (Lithuania)

February 24 – Independence Day (Estonia)

March- European Holiday Guide for Marketing

In March, Mother’s Day comes early for the UK and Ireland. There, the fourth Sunday in Lent is Mothering Sunday, a day that traditionally called for families to attend church at the nearest important cathedral. Now the holiday is also an occasion to celebrate mothers with small gifts and cards. Italy, Spain and Portugal celebrate Father’s Day in March by giving fathers cards and gifts. Towards the end of the month, Europeans travel to southern Spain to see the Semana Santa festivals.

Notable Dates

March 3 – Liberation Day (Bulgaria)

March 8 – Women’s Day (Belarus, Russia, Ukraine)

March 15 – National Day (Hungary)

March 17 – St. Patrick’s Day (Ireland, Northern Ireland)

March 19 – Father’s Day (Italy, Spain, Portugal)

March 25 – Greek Independence Day

April - European Holiday Guide for Marketing

April marks the start of warmer weather and approaching spring. Many prepare for the change of seasons by stocking up on warm-weather clothes and supplies for springtime activities like gardening. The holiday Easter usually falls in April, and marks the end of Lent. Like other Christian holidays, Eastern Orthodox countries like Bulgaria, Cyrus, Greece, Romania, Serbia and the Ukraine celebrate Easter a few weeks afterwards. The first day of April is also a day for pranks, with countries like France going so far as to stick paper fish on their friends’ backs without them noticing.

Notable Dates

April 1 – April Fools Day

April 22 – Earth Day

April 25 – Liberation Day (Italy)

April 25 – Freedom Day (Portugal)

April 27 – King’s Day (The Netherlands)

May - European Holiday Guide for Marketing

Many countries in Europe kick off May by observing May Day, Labour Day or International Worker’s Day. This is a day to commemorate the achievements of the labour movement; sometimes it is marked with demonstrations from socialist groups. Several countries also celebrate Mother’s or Father’s Day in May. However, because some European countries have different Mother’s and Father’s days throughout the year, advertising related gifts and cards isn’t restricted to May. This means that there are many opportunities to advertise gifts and cards related to the holiday. 

Notable Dates

May 1 – May Day

May 3 – Mother’s Day (Hungary, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Spain)

May 10 – Mother’s Day (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Switzerland)

May 10 – Father’s Day (Romania)

May 14 – Father’s Day (Germany)

May 17- Constitution Day (Norway)

May 26 – Poland (Mother’s Day)

May 31 – Mother’s Day (France, Sweden)

June - European Holiday Guide for Marketing

Every four years, Europe is whipped into a football frenzy when the FIFA World Cup begins in June. If a country’s team has made it into the World Cup, it’s guaranteed that the streets will be packed with fans rooting for their team. Also this month, several countries celebrate either Mother’s or Father’s Day. With the coming of summer in June, many Europeans mark the return of warm weather by traveling or taking a holiday elsewhere in Europe and the world. Towards the end of the month, several Nordic countries celebrate Midsommardagen by traveling or celebrating outdoors. 

Notable Dates

June 2 – Republic Day (Italy)

June 5 – Father’s Day (Denmark)

June 7 – Father’s Day (Lithuania, Switzerland)

June 14 – Father’s Day (Austria, Belgium)

June 14 – Mother’s Day (Luxembourg)

June 21 – Father’s Day (France, Hungary, Ireland, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Malta)

July- European Holiday Guide for Marketing

In July, the world watches the Tour de France unfold. The 21-day cycling race occurs all across France, and features international teams from around Europe and the world. Cycling enthusiasts travel to France to see this race, adding to the month’s existing travel rush as people enjoy the summer while holidaying in the country or by the beach.

Notable Dates

July 14 – Bastille Day (France)

July 21 – National Day (Belgium)

August - European Holiday Guide for Marketing

August Bank Holiday for Ireland and the UK falls on the last Monday in August (except for Scotland, where it’s observed on the first Monday in August). This holiday was created to give workers a chance to enjoy the summer before the long stretch of time without any major holidays until Christmas in December. In fact, much of Europe views August as a time to take holidays and enjoy the warm weather while they can. The last weekend in August is also a bank holiday for many parts of the UK, and many journey to the largest street carnival in Europe in the Notting Hill neighborhood of London.

Notable Dates

August 1 – National Day (Switzerland)

August 3 – Commerce Day (Iceland)

September - European Holiday Guide for Marketing

In September, the weather begins to cool down in Europe and festivals are held across the continent. People begin to look for fall and winter clothes around this time, in addition to other preparations for colder weather. September also marks the start of Oktoberfest, the historic German beer festival.

Notable Dates

September 1 – Constitution of the Slovak Republic Day (Slovakia)

September 13 – Father’s Day (Latvia)

September 22 – Independence Day (Bulgaria)

September 28 – St. Wenceslas Day (Czech Republic)

October - European Holiday Guide for Marketing

Many countries hold festivities of their own in October. Turkish citizen hold massive feasts for Eid al-Adha, which usually falls in September or October. The month concludes with Halloween, a holiday all about ghosts, frights and costumes. In Ireland, Halloween is a public holiday as it’s based off of the old Celtic festival Samhain Eve.

Notable Dates

October 3 – German Unification Day 

October 4 – Father’s Day (Luxembourg)

October 12 – National Day (Spain)

October 23 – Republic Day (Hungary)

October 26 – National Day (Austria)

October 28 – Independent Czechoslovak State Day (Czech Republic)

October 28 – National Anniversary (Greece, Cyprus)

October 29 – Republic Day (Turkey)

October 31 – Halloween

November - European Holiday Guide for Marketing

In November, cold weather officially arrives for most parts of Europe, prompting people to invest in coats, scarves, sweaters, hats, gloves and devices like heaters to help them keep warm through the winter. It’s also a time when many countries celebrate their nationality, like Russia and Poland. Also this month, several countries pause to remember service members who lost their lives in World War I.

Notable Dates

November 2 – All Souls’ Day

November 4 – Day of Unity (Russia)

November 5 – Guy Fawkes Night (UK)

November 8 – Father’s Day (Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden)

November 11 – Polish Independence Day

November 11 – Remembrance Day (Belgium, France, Serbia)

November 15 – King’s Feast (Belgium)

November 17 – Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day (Slovakia, Czech Republic)

December - European Holiday Guide for Marketing

December is a month of gift giving for many across Europe. There are several occasions to give gifts to one another, including Saint Nicholas’ Feast Day, Christmas and Boxing Day/St. Stephen’s Day where gifts are usually given to tradesmen like milkmen, butchers, etc. At the end of the month, people welcome in the new year with all-night celebrations and parties.

Notable Dates

December 1 – Great Union Day (Romania)

December 6 – Saint Nicholas Day

December 6 – Independence Day (Finland)

December 6 – Constitution Day (Spain)

December 24 – Christmas Eve

December 25 – Christmas

December 26 – Boxing Day / St. Stephen’s Day

December 26 – Independence and Unity Day (Slovenia)

Dec. 31 – New Year’s Eve

Want to learn about North American holidays as well? Then be sure to check out our comprehensive list of North American holidays and occasions marketers need to know for 2016!

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