Reformation Day 2022: History, Significance and Celebrations

Reformation Day is annually celebrated on 31st October. It is believed that on this day Martin Luther is said to have posted his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany (October 31, 1517), later identified by Protestants as the beginning of the Reformation. 

Hence this day is very for the Protestant Christian communities around the world. So not only Halloween falls on October 31st as another major festival with religious significance occurs on this day as well. This festival is very important holiday in Protestantism and has a significance in other branches of Christianity as well. 

It is lawfully and officially recognized in some states of Germany and sovereign countries of Slovenia and Chile. In addition, countries like Switzerland and Austria provide specifics in laws pertaining to Protestant churches, while not officially proclaiming it a nationwide holiday.

Event Reformation Day
Date October 31, 2022
Day Monday
Significance The day is considered auspicious for Protestant Christian communities all over the world.
Observed by World wide

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Reformation Day History: 

In all started in 1516–17 when Johann Tetzel, a Dominican friar and papal commissioner for indulgences, was sent to Germany to raise money to rebuild St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. On 31 October 1517, Martin Luther wrote to Albrecht, Archbishop of Mainz and Magdeburg, protesting against the sale of indulgences. He enclosed in his letter a copy of his “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences”, which came to be known as the Ninety-five Theses. It is said that Luther had no intention of confronting the church, but saw his disputation as a scholarly objection to church practices, and the tone of the writing is accordingly “searching, rather than doctrinaire.” 

Luther objected to a saying attributed to Johann Tetzel that “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory [also attested as ‘into heaven’] springs.” He insisted that, since forgiveness was God’s alone to grant, those who claimed that indulgences absolved buyers from all punishments and granted them salvation were in error. Christians, he said, must not slacken in following Christ on account of such false assurances. The Ninety-five Theses were quickly translated from Latin into German, printed, and widely copied, making the controversy one of the first in history to be aided by the printing press. Within two weeks, copies of the theses had spread throughout Germany; within two months throughout Europe.

Luther’s writings circulated widely, reaching France, England, and Italy as early as 1519. Students thronged to Wittenberg to hear Luther speak. He published a short commentary on Galatians and his Work on the Psalms. This early part of Luther’s career was one of his most creative and productive. Three of his best-known works were published in 1520: To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation, On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church, and On the Freedom of a Christian.

Earlier than him also many opposed the movements of the church, but Martin Luther brought it to light and sought reformation within the church. His theses gave grounds for people to question the church; it was a time of large religious and social change. Luther preached reformation, but his thesis was warped for political, social, and economic reasons by various emerging leaders of the movement. This brought about a fractionalization in the Catholic Church and the emergence of the Protestant Reformation under the Protestant Church.

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Reformation Day Significance: 

Today, it is celebrated among various Protestants, especially by Lutheran and Reformed Churches. Due to ecumenical movements, some other Christian groups now tend to acknowledge or co-participate in church services celebrating Reformation Day. That includes the Roman Catholic Church, as well as various Protestant denominations that are neither Lutheran nor Reformed, i.e. lack a direct connection to religious events of the 16th century Europe.

The Bible was in Latin, a language not understood by the majority of the local people, and the priests gave religious services in Latin. No one understood what the priests said or if it was true. After the Reformation, the Bible was written in the common language of the people, allowing everyone to read and understand it. And that’s why this day is considered very important as it brought a huge change in the Christian societies and obviously as it formed the Protestantism which had a huge impact in our world and still continues to have today. 

Before the Reformation, the church sold tickets of indulgences from sins for money. Indulgences were seen as a means for one’s sins to be forgiven. This promoted the notion that heaven is only for the rich. Because of that we love Reformation Day because it stands for the belief that forgiveness is for all and does not require any monetary payments so this moment in history was like a turning point in the Christianity which helped people to solid their belief in God by understanding him in a better way. 

It is a civic holiday in the the German states of Brandenburg, Hamburg, Bremen, Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein and Thuringia. Slovenia celebrates it as well due to the profound contribution of the Reformation to that nation’s cultural development, although Slovenes are mainly Roman Catholics. With the increasing influence of Protestantism in Latin America (particularly newer groups such as various Evangelical Protestants, Pentecostals or Charismatics), it has been declared a national holiday in Chile in 2009. 

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Reformation Day Celebrations: 

Reformation Day is a great opportunity to discover or remind yourself of the story of Martin Luther and the beginning of the Reformation. There are many resources on Luther, for children as well as adults. We suggest the account of Luther’s 95 Theses from History of the Reformation in the 16th Century by J. Merle d’Aubigné in Book III, Chapters 4, 5 and 6. 

Reformation is the anniversary of Martin Luther’s release of the 95 Theses. He intended them as propositions to be discussed in a formal academic debate. This never happened. Instead their publication caused a great stir, and it proved to be the first step towards Luther’s break with the Catholic church. You should consider reading them, or some of them on this Reformation Day.

The Reformation led to a revitalization of singing and an outpouring of new songs. Luther himself was an avid song writer. Rejoice in God’s providence by singing some classic hymns that have been translated into English as there are many available today easily so do try to sing those hymns at this special occasion. 

In the Bible we see that God wants His people to rejoice before Him in what He has done. Reformation Day is a great opportunity to do that. Gather with friends and family to eat and review and discuss the history and importance of the Reformation. If you have children or know them then there are many ways to get them engaged and excited for this day and teach them about its importance. 

Most Searched FAQs on Reformation Day: 

1. When is Reformation Day celebrated? 

Reformation Day is annually celebratedon 31st October. 

2. Who started Protestant Reformation? 

Martin Luther, a German monk started Protestant Reformation. 

3. What do the “95 Theses” say? 

“The 95 Theses” stand for the belief that true salvation is not by one’s deeds but through faith alone. It also sought change and unity within the church and rid it of corrupt practices and centralization of the Bible.

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