Friday, October 2, 2009

feiertag - bank holidays

I've just discovered that tomorrow (Saturday) is a bank holiday here, and while part of me likes the fact that in Germany they don't move the holiday days around if they fall on a weekend (in Britain afterall you'd get Monday off if the bank holiday fell at the weekend) what I'd forgotten (until reminded by another expat) is that the shops will be shut tomorrow.

They do take their holidays seriously here!

So that means that apart from the bakers which will open first thing (Germans cannot function without their daily dose of fresh bread) and then shut as soon as their stocks are depleted, there is nowhere to buy supplies from for the weekend, I'd kind of thought of popping to the supermarket tomorrow for what I need for tomorrow's tea & sunday's but now it has to be done today, how irritating!

In Germany there seem to be a lot of bank holidays, although not spread out in a very efficient manner, but I guess that's down to the church. Between New Year (which is bizarrely known as Silvester here, due to Saint Silvester who died on that date in 813) and Easter which can be quite late, there are no bank holidays here (although that doesn't bother me as much as it would if I were in paid work, I remember distinctly the 'free' days of holiday that were bank holidays) although living in the part of Germany that we do where the tradition of Karneval is still alive and kicking we get Rosenmontag as a bank holiday (42 days before Easter) first.
The bank holidays after Easter come in quick succession, May 1 (tag der arbeit) Christihimmelfahrt (my favourit name which translates perfectly - christ,heaven,travel = ascension day of course!) Pfingsten (Whitsun) Fronleichnam (another neat translation, happy,dead,day = corpus christi!) then we come to tomorrow's more recent addition to the bank holiday calender, Tag der Deutschen Einheit (German reunification day).

They mighn't move the bank holidays around here but what they do like to do is tag extra days onto them, 'bridging days' as they're known. So if a bank holiday falls on a Thursday or a Tuesday you tend to get the day between it and the weekend off too, gratis, which is neat, especially as on bridging days offices & schools and the like are shut but shops and the normal stuff of life continues.

However this is not the case tomorrow, when everything will be shut up and it will be pretty much like Sunday is here (but I'm sure I shall want to talk about the German institution of Sunday in another blog...)

This year is 20 years since the Berlin wall came down, 20 years since reunification started, so there's bound to be lots going on...shall have to listen out for the fireworks on Saturday evening!

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