Germany gives you a fairly generous dose of public holidays, especially if you live in the Catholic south. But, annoyingly, they aren’t replaced if they fall on the weekend. That means that it pays to book your days off around the public holidays that fall on work days. Here’s how.
We all remember the festive season last year when Christmas and New Year fell on the weekend. It really wasn't such a happy time of year at all. Well good tidings are on the way.
Christmas and Boxing Day fall on a Monday and a Tuesday at the end of this year, meaning a bumper four days of holiday without you having to sacrifice a single vacation day.
And the merriment continues into the new year, with January 1st falling on a Monday. So anyone who has a multi-day hangover could choose to use up four vacation days here and keep the party going until January 7th. That would be a nine day break at the cost of only four vacation days.
For the people of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg the year doesn't start quite as perfectly as it could, though. Three Kings Day, which is celebrated in the two southern states every January 6th, falls on a Saturday.
February is a cold and unforgiving time indeed, there are no public holidays in that (mercifully) short month.
So we have to wait patiently for the end of March, which brings with it Good Friday (March 30th), the first day of Easter. Wise heads among us will certainly consider asking the boss for a couple of days off before or after the Easter weekend (although flights and hotels are often prohibitively expensive.)
Public holidays, you are indeed as welcome as the flowers of May.
Labour Day (May 1st) falls on a Tuesday next year, while Ascension Day is on a Thursday (May 10th). Germans like to call the piece of luck when a public holiday falls on a Tuesday or a Thursday a Brückentag (bridge day) – meaning they can book their vacation on a Monday or Friday and get a four day break.
Indeed many of us will have an unlikely three Brückentage in May. If you work in Baden-Württmberg, Bavaria, Hessen, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Rhineland-Palatinate or Saarland you will also get the day off on Thursday May 31st for Fronleichnam.
Not only that, we all get a long weekend in the middle of the month with Pentecost Monday falling on May 21st.
So for those who like mini breaks, it really doesn’t get much better than May 2018.
The Christian calendar front-loads most public holidays in the early months of the year, so things always look distinctly more gloomy from July onward. But even the few holidays we do get are poorly placed in the second half of 2018.
Catholic parts of Bavaria and Saarland get August 15th off for Mariä Himmelfahrt, but it falls on a Wednesday, meaning no Brückentag possibilities there.
Reunification day (October 1st) will also fall on a Wednesday, as does Reformation Day (October 31st), which is celebrated in the five states of former East Germany. And similar to countries like the US and Canada, Halloween (October 31st) unfortunately isn't a public holiday in Germany.
Catholics have something to cheer about in November with All Saints’ Day (November 1st) falling on a Thursday. In Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, NRW, Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate that is a public holiday.
The end of the year brings cheer back to the whole country, with the two Christmas holidays landing on a Tuesday and a Wednesday – so a Brückentag on Christmas Eve will give you a five day break.