Sales Holidays in Europe: Days to Know When Selling Internationally

Sales holidays are important for many online shops. These special holidays are times when customers are often looking for deals, so they can bring lots of great opportunities to many businesses.

If you sell abroad, there are a few things to consider when planning for these international holidays.

For example, one country might have some completely different holidays that are not celebrated or even known about in your home market, even if the country is right next door.

Another thing to consider is that some of the holidays that they do have in common don’t always fall on the same day. Mother’s Day, for example, falls on at least six different days across Europe, depending on the country. Father's Day is not much different throughout Europe.

In today’s blog, let’s look at some of these lesser-known, special holidays across different European markets. Many of them will be perfect "bank holiday" sales opportunities. In any case, they shouldn’t be ignored.

We'll cover the following unique holidays:

  1. France: French Days
  2. The Netherlands: Book Week (Boekenweek)
  3. Spain & Italy: 3 Kings' Day/Epiphany
  4. Poland: Grandmother’s Day & Grandfather’s Day
  5. Germany, Austria & Switzerland: Advent 
Before we begin, you might want to know that we’ve created a marketing calendar to give you an overview of the most important international holidays throughout Europe, especially for online retailers. Download it now by clicking below:

 

Do you know the most important sales holidays in Europe? Get your 2024 & 2025 marketing calendar

France: French Days

It's funny that in France, the English phrase "French Days" is used. Who says the French aren’t good at English?

Although this technically isn’t a bank holiday, it is very important in the retail world. Originally created to take on “Black Friday”, French Days happens twice a year and lasts for a few days each.

As you might have guessed, one of the French Days is relatively close to the holiday season, taking place in late September. The other French Days event takes place in late April.

It’s worth noting that French sales periods are highly regulated by the government. If you have a dedicated French domain, be careful with sales and promotions you hold here. The wording and the amount of discounts you offer can potentially break the law.

Other notable holidays in France:

  • Grandmother's Day (early March)
  • Mother's Day (late May)
  • St. Nicolas (December 6th)

The Netherlands: Book Week

Although International Book Day is celebrated in many countries and by many retailers around the world, the Netherlands (and Flanders in Belgium) do things a bit differently. They dedicate an entire week to books, with a focus on Dutch literature! It usually takes place in March (although 2021 and 2022 saw some exceptions thanks to COVID-19).

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It may not be a bank holiday, but it is special: Ever since the first Bokenweek in 1932, this annual 10-day event begins with the invite-only Boekenbal (book ball), which is a gathering of writers and publishers. Otherwise, the general public can participate by attending book signings, literary festivals, debates, and other events across the country.

mother reading book to child

Source: shutterstock.com/fizkes

Each Book Week follows a certain theme. One of the most popular traditions of this event is the Boekenweekgeschenk, a special book created each year for this event. Written by (usually) a Dutch author, this book is given as a gift to consumers who’ve bought a Dutch-language book. Having this book even works as a free train ticket on the final Sunday of Boekenweek!

You can learn more about this event, organised by the Collectieve Propaganda van het Nederlandse Boek, by visiting their website.

Other notable holidays in the Netherlands:

  • King's Day (April 27th)
  • St. Martin's (November 11th)
  • Sinterklaas (December 5th)

 

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Spain & Italy:
3 Kings' Day/Epiphany

Epiphany (aka 3 Kings Day) is more popular in some countries than others. Spain and Italy hold this holiday in higher regard than other countries. However, their traditions are a bit different.

In Spain, Santa isn’t necessarily the star of the show like he is in many countries. Although he has become more popular in recent years, traditionally, it’s the three wise men who are the gift-givers. Seems appropriate given their role in the story of the birth of Christ.

woman surprising man with gift

Source: shutterstock.com/vectorfusionart

Spanish boys and girls, therefore, look forward to Jan 6th rather than December 25th.

Many great traditions go along with this holiday, including a big parade on January 5th and the sharing of the roscón de reyes, a sweet bread-like cake which contains hidden treasures that reveal who will have good fortune in the coming year.

Other notable holidays in Spain:

  • Father's Day (March 19th)
  • Mother's Day (early May)

In Italy, folklore says an old woman (or witch) gives out candy to children. It’s not uncommon for children to get candy and small toys/gifts to go along with their calza della befana, the Italian version of a Christmas stocking. Many offices are often closed on this day.

Other notable holidays in Italy:

  • Father's Day (March 19th)
  • Mother's Day (mid-May)
  • Grandparent's Day (October 2nd)

Poland: Grandmother’s Day & Grandfather’s Day

granddaughter kissing happy older grandma

Source: shutterstock.com/fizkes

What a nice idea. A dedicated holiday to grandmothers and grandfathers! For the record, they are separate holidays that fall on back-to-back days: "Ladies first" with Grandmother’s Day on January 21st, followed by Grandfather’s Day on the 22nd of January.

The idea was popularised in the 1960s and has been celebrated throughout Poland ever since. As you might imagine, it’s a lot like Mother’s Day. Congratulations are shared, gifts are given, flowers are presented, and, of course, gratitude and appreciation are always at the forefront.

Other notable holidays in Poland:

  • Mother's Day (May 26th)
  • Children's Day (June 1st)
  • Father's Day (June 23rd)
  • St. Nicolas’ Day (December 6th)

 

Germany, Austria & Switzerland: Advent

Advent is known throughout much of the world, but in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, it’s as big of a part of the Christmas festivities as any other tradition. Taking place on the four Sundays preceding Christmas, many people in the German-speaking world buy Advents calendars.

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These Advent calendars offer chocolates or small gifts for every day of Christmas, making the entire month of December full of (small) gifts. Many companies and brands create Advents calendars for this market, including Ikea and Playmobil.

Other notable holidays in Germany:

  • St. Martin's Day (November 11th)
  • St. Nicolas’ Day  (December 6th)
  • Mother's Day (mid May)

Other notable holidays in Austria:

  • Father's Day (early June)
  • Mother's Day (mid May)

Other notable holidays in Switzerland:

  • Father's Day (early June)
  • Mother's Day (mid May)

Conclusion

Theare so many unique holidays across Europe. Today, we looked at some of the most unique ones in Western Europe. As mentioned earlier, some of these shared holidays also fall on different days depending on the market.

For a better overview of the biggest sales opportunities for bank- and special holidays in Europe’s biggest markets, download our free marketing calendar today:

Do you know the most important sales holidays in Europe? Get your 2024 & 2025 marketing calendar

20/12/23

Alon Eisenberg

Alon Eisenberg

Alon Eisenberg has been the Content Manager UK at Trusted Shops since 2017. He graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor's degree in Communications in 2004.

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