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WORKING IN GERMANY

EXPLAINED: How you can make the most of Germany’s 2022 public holidays

Lots of Germany's public holidays fell on weekends in 2021, meaning most employees lost out on them. We look at the situation for 2022, and how you can make your vacation days go further.

A diary with 'Brückentag' or 'bridge day' noted inside it. You can start to plan how to make the most of your vacation days next year now
A diary with 'Brückentag' or 'bridge day' noted inside it. You can start to plan how to make the most of your vacation days next year now. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Patrick Pleul

Is 2022 a good year for public holidays in Germany?

It’s not brilliant. Due to Germany’s rule of not giving workers a day day off when a public holiday falls on a weekend – unlike in the UK or the US for instance – 2022 was recently described by German news magazine Spiegel as another “employer year”. 

That means that the majority of people lose out on some days off and you effectively have to work more than you would compared to public holiday-friendly years (thanks for that, Germany). 

But if you plan cleverly, you can squeeze out some more free time by taking so-called Brückentage (bridge days) off. 

Here’s a look at the German public holiday schedule in 2022 and how you can make it work for you. 

New Year

2022 got off to a disappointing start: January 1st – a public holiday in Germany – fell on a Saturday this year. As most people don’t work on the weekend, they wouldn’t have got a holiday for it because it’s already a day off.

Epiphany or Heilige Drei Könige/Three Kings Day (regional)

There’s some good news for people in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Saxony-Anhalt – residents living here can look forward to a day off shortly after the turn of the year. On Thursday January 6th these states get a public holiday for Epiphany. By taking annual leave on January 7th (the magical so-called Brückentag we’ve been talking about), you can get four days off in a row.

READ ALSO: What you should know about Three Kings Day in Germany

Women’s Day (regional)

This is one for the Berliners. Step forward Women’s Day which takes place on Tuesday March 8th in 2022. Take Monday March 7th off to score a longer weekend. 

READ ALSO: What you should know about Frauentag, Berlin’s public holiday

Easter

At Easter we can always count on a long weekend in Germany. From Good Friday, which in 2022 falls on April 15th, to Easter Monday on April 18th, most people will get time off to relax. If you book time off as early as April 11th, you will get 10 days off in a row with four requested annual leave days.

Feiertag - or 'public holiday' is written in a diary.
Feiertag – or ‘public holiday’ is written in a diary. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Holger Hollemann

International Workers’ Day 

Despite it being a day for workers, May 1st fell on a Saturday in 2021 and therefore did not benefit the vast majority of workers. And in 2022 it – wait for it – takes place on a Sunday. So it doesn’t give many people an additional day off yet again. Poor show. 

Ascension Day or Christi Himmelfahrt/Father’s Day

But now onto another Christian holiday and lots of people are benefitting. As is the case every year, 40 days after Easter, the nationwide holiday of Ascension Day falls on a Thursday. In 2022 it will take place on May 26th. If you take a bridge day on May 27th, you can get four days off. It’s also known as Father’s Day in Germany and traditionally means lots of men go for a bike ride or hike and get drunk together. 

READ ALSO: Why Germans get wholly wasted on Ascension Day

Whitsun or Pfingsten/Pentecost

Whit Monday sees residents in Germany get a long weekend every year. In 2022, Whit Sunday is on June 5th and Whit Monday on June 6th. If you take a holiday from June 7th to 10th, you will get nine days off in a row.

In May and June there is also the possibility of extending the holiday by taking two public holidays during the week. If you take both the Friday after Ascension Day and the week before Whitsun, you will get 12 days off with six days of annual leave.

READ ALSO: What and where are Germany’s public holidays in 2021

Corpus Christi or Fronleichnam (regional)

For the states of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Corpus Christi is a public holiday on Thursday June 16th. Book June 17th off for another long weekend. 

Assumption Day or Maria Himmelfahrt (regional)

Employees in Bavaria and Saarland can enjoy another Catholic-origin public holiday on Monday August 15th. Taking Friday August 13th off would result in another bumper weekend.

World Children’s Day or Kindertag (regional)

Those living in the central-eastern state of Thuringia will get a day off in 2022 on Tuesday September 20th. Take the Brückentag off on Monday September 19th to make your holiday go further.

German Reunification Day or Tag der Deutschen Einheit

In 2021, German Unity Day happened on a Sunday. In 2022 October 3rd is on a Monday so more people will get the day off. Four days of requested annual leave afterwards would result in nine days off.

A light show on the Hesse parliament building in Wiesbaden marks German Reunification Day and the 75th birthday of the State of Hesse on October 3rd 2021.
A light show on the Hesse parliament building in Wiesbaden marks German Reunification Day and the 75th birthday of the State of Hesse on October 3rd 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

Reformation Day or Reformationstag (regional)

In 2021 Reformation Day fell on Sunday October 31st. But in 2022 it’s a Monday. The states of Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein and Thuringia get a day off on this Protestant-origin holiday. Take Friday October 28th off for another four-day weekend.

All Saints’ Day or Allerheiligen (regional)

Those living in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland will get Tuesday November 1st off in 2022. Book Monday October 31st bridge day off if you’d like some more time to rest. 

Day of Prayer and Repentance or Buß und Bettag (regional)

Residents in Saxony will get a day off on Wednesday November 16th 2022 for ‘Buß und Bettag’. Book the 17th and 18th as annual leave for five days off in a row.

READ ALSO: What’s behind the Saxon public holiday of Buß und Bettag? 

Christmas holidays 

In 2021 both December 25th and 26th fell on a weekend. In 2022, December 25th is on a Sunday as is New Year’s Day 2023. But Boxing Day on December 26th is on a Monday so most people will get a public holiday for it. Phew. 

Fireworks go off at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate on January 1st 2021.
Fireworks go off at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate on January 1st 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Soeder

Dates for your diary: a glance at the public holidays in Germany across states in 2022 

New Year’s Day – Saturday January 1st 2022: all federal states

Epiphany – Thursday January 6th 2022: Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Saxony-Anhalt

International Women’s Day: Tuesday March 8th 2022: Berlin

Good Friday – Friday April 15th 2022: all federal states

Easter Monday – Monday April 18th 2022: all federal states

Labour/Workers’ Day – Sunday May 1st 2022: all federal states

Ascension Day – Thursday May 26th 2022: all federal states

Whit Monday – Monday June 6th 2022: all federal states

Corpus Christi – Thursday June 16th 2022: Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland

Assumption – Monday August 15th 2022: Bavaria, Saarland

World Children’s Day – Tuesday September 20th 2022: Thuringia

German Unity Day – Monday October 3rd 2022: all federal states

Reformation Day – Monday, October 31st 2022: Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein, Thuringia

All Saints’ Day – Tuesday November 1st 2022: Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland

Day of Prayer and Repentance – Wednesday 16th November 2022: Saxony

Christmas Day – Sunday December 25th 2022: all federal states

Boxing Day – Monday December 26th 2022: all federal states

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HEALTH

7 things to know about visiting a doctor in Germany

Going to the doctor when you're living abroad is a necessary part of life, but it can feel a little daunting. Here are some cultural quirks to look out for in Germany.

7 things to know about visiting a doctor in Germany

Germany is known for having one of the best healthcare systems in the world. 

But there are some cultural differences that can take a bit of getting used to when you’re not from the country. 

Here’s a look at what you should keep in mind. 

You might have to pay at the doctor

People used to a healthcare system that’s free at the point of contact, such as the NHS in the UK, may be a little confused if they are asked to pay money at a doctor’s appointment. 

But the fact is that certain things will not be covered by your health insurance in Germany, and some optional extras could require that you have to dip into your wallet. 

For instance, many gynaecologists may offer to carry out an optional pelvic ultrasound check during a Pap smear test. If it’s not covered by your insurance, they will state in the appointment that it is an extra cost so you can decide if you want to pay for it or not. 

You should also ask if you have to pay for it upfront at the practice or if it will be sent out as a bill. 

Similarly, other specialists may also offer extra services that you could pay extra for. 

READ ALSO: ‘It works’: Your verdict on the German healthcare system

You’ll get different types of prescriptions

Another point to watch out for is that there are different kinds of prescriptions. A prescription (Rezept) given out on pink slips is usually given to people on statutory health insurance. People have to pay a reduced contribution – usually around €5-€10 – when picking up prescription medicine at the pharmacy. 

Patients with private insurance in Germany are more likely to be given a blue-coloured prescription slip. Private customers have to pay for their medicines in full before their insurance company reimburses them. You can also be given a blue slip if your public health insurance doesn’t cover the treatment.

Green slips include treatment that the doctor recommends. Meanwhile, yellow prescriptions are issued by the doctor for special controlled substances and are only valid for seven days. 

Polite waiting room etiquette

Germans may not be well known for being super friendly. But there are a few unexpected spots which are very welcoming. And one of those places is the doctor’s waiting room. 

Yes, it can be very surprising for foreigners when they are greeted with a little “Guten Morgen!” or “hallo!” in the waiting room when someone arrives. It’s customary for patients to give a polite hello and goodbye in the waiting room.

A person being vaccinated against Covid-19 in Hamburg in 2021.

A person being vaccinated against Covid-19 in Hamburg in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christian Charisius

… But you may face a stern receptionist or doctor

Ask a group of international residents about their experience of going to the doctor in Germany – or indeed other German-speaking countries – and you will likely hear about how the bedside manner is “different”.

This is because some doctors, and even receptionists, have a stern and direct approach when dealing with patients, which can be intimidating for newcomers to the country.

It can also be a little weird if you have to take some clothes off for an examination. You probably won’t be handed a gown, towel or even asked to undress behind a curtain. Everything is out in the open in Germany!  

Don’t worry though – none of this is personal. It’s just a different way of doing things. 

If you do come across a grumpy doctor, the best way to handle it is to either accept it or find a different doctor.

Be prepared to wait

Most Hausarzt (GP) practices in Germany operate on a drop-in basis during set times, known as Sprechstunden (consultation hours).

This means you can simply pop in during a two or three-hour window. During these times, it’s also first-come, first-served.

The advantage of this system is that it’s possible to see a doctor, for example, on a Wednesday morning without an appointment, as long as you have time to wait.

But if you are in a rush, or have a strict schedule, then the drop-in approach can be time-consuming. Depending on when you arrive, it could mean a short wait of several minutes or up to an hour.

The best advice is to arrive just as the doors open to secure a place near the top of the queue.

You can also book an appointment or Termin. But even if you book, you’ll probably still face a wait of at least 15 minutes. 

You are usually referred to a specialist

In Germany, if you are covered by public health insurance, you usually have to visit a GP to be referred to a specialist doctor.

There are exceptions in some cases, such as for gynaecologists and ophthalmologists where you can make an appointment without a referral.

If you have private insurance you can book appointments with specialists more easily.

READ ALSO: How to get a faster appointment with a specialist in Germany

Visit (or call) a GP for a sick note

If you’re sick from work then you have to get a sick note – Arbeitsunfähigkeitsbescheinigung or Krankschreibung – after three days of illness to give to your employer. Some bosses may require this sick note earlier, so check your contract or ask HR. 

Generally, you have to visit your doctor to get this document. But during the pandemic, people have been able to get a sick note over the phone from their GP for mild respiratory illnesses, including Covid-19. 

READ ALSO: The 10 rules you need to know if you fall ill in Germany 

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