How to celebrate Germany’s historic House Music Day

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. 

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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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