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LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: Keeping track of working hours, rude AfD sweets and Miniatur Wunderland

In our weekly roundup about life in Germany we look at the effect a recent court ruling could have on working life, weird political sweets, the leaning tower of Gau-Weinheim and Hamburg's cool model wonderland.

Visitors enjoy the Miniaturwunderland in Hamburg
Visitors enjoy the Miniaturwunderland in Hamburg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Markus Scholz

Court ruling set to change the way we work in Germany 

One of our most-read stories this week was on the Federal Labour’s Court decision that employers in Germany should be recording the working hours of all their employees. Although it actually dates back to a ruling by the European Court of Justice (2019), no further action had been taken in Germany until now. So what does this mean? Well it appears that bosses, who don’t do this already, will soon have to set up a system to record their employees’ work schedules. The aim is to protect employees from working too much and carrying out unpaid overtime. But it does also raise issues about trust – which the current system is based on – and what happens when an employee works from home. There’s no clear start date for when this will have to start, and Germany is a long way off from being able to implement tracking of employees’ hours across the board. But it signals a cultural shift, and it’s something we can expect to be more integrated into working life in future. Imogen Goodman explored the decision in an explainer published on Friday. You can read more here.

Tweet of the week

There’s been some red faces among Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). The party in Lower Saxony had gummy bears made for their state election campaign in the shape of the red arrow from their logo. But people have spotted a very strong resemblance to something else….

Where is this?

Photo: DPA/ Boris Roessler

Forget the leaning tower of Pisa – today we’re highlighting some other magnificently crooked architecture. This is the leaning tower of Gau-Weinheim. Due to its inclination of 5.4277 degrees, the former fortified tower of the small municipality in Rhineland-Palatinate is considered the “most leaning tower in the world” according to the Record Institute for Germany (RID). 

Did you know?

With its rich history, location by the water and abundance of Fischbrötchen, the northern German city of Hamburg is well worth checking out. But did you know that it’s also home to the world’s largest miniature railway? Twin brothers Fredereki and Gerrit Braun set about creating the masterpiece back in 2000. One year later, Miniatur Wunderland opened its doors. The Wunderland has over 1,040 trains and a layout size of more than 1.490 square metres. You can take a trip around the world in the surroundings – and there’s even a miniature airport which simulates take offs and landings with model aeroplanes. The brothers are always expanding and consistently break their own Guinness World Records. It’s great for kids too. 

Thanks for reading,

The Local Germany team

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Member comments

  1. The working hours ruling is a mistake. This will be immediately abused by employers to implement all sorts of tracking and use that to get people back in offices.

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WORKING IN GERMANY

Which public holidays are coming up in Germany?

Now that summer is over, many people will be wondering when the next holidays are coming up. Depending on where you live in Germany, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Which public holidays are coming up in Germany?

World Children’s Day – Tuesday, September 20th

Where: Thuringia

If you live in the state of Thuringia, you can look forward to a day off work or school next week.  

Established by the United Nations in 1954, World Children’s Day honours children as the future of society and is intended to draw attention to the rights of children, focus on their individual needs and make political demands on their behalf.

Children hold up banners in front of the Reichstag with their demands on World Children’s Day, 2020. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jörg Carstensen

The state of Thuringia decided to make Weltkindertag a public holiday in 2019, hoping that the day off would draw attention to the needs of children and families, and encourage parents to spend more time with their children.

As the holiday falls on a Tuesday, if you’re living in Thuringia, why not take a Brückentag (bridge day) and enjoy a four-day weekend?

READ ALSO: German word of the day: Der Brückentag

Useful vocabulary for this holiday: 

Family time – (die) Familienzeit

Child rights – (die) Kinderrechte

German Unity Day – Monday, October 3rd

Where: Nationwide

The next nationwide public holiday to put in your calendar is October 3rd, when the country celebrates German Unity Day.

Tag der deutschen Einheit – German Unity Day – celebrates the date that the GDR officially ceased to exist as a sovereign state and rejoined the Federal Republic of Germany in 1990. Since then, Germany has been reunited as the Bundesrepublik and the date is celebrated every year with a holiday in every federal state.

This year it lands on a Monday meaning that many people will get a long weekend. 

Useful vocabulary for this holiday: 

Reunification – (die) Wiedervereinigung

Fall of the Berlin Wall – (der) Mauerfall

All Saints’ Day – Tuesday, November 1st

Where: Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland

The history of All Saints’ Day goes right back to the birth of Christianity, as it was originally a day of commemoration for martyrs who were killed because of their Christian faith when it was introduced in the 4th century.

Nowadays, in Germany, the feast day is celebrated every year on November 1st, with masses and remembrance services in cemeteries to remember the dead.

Two roses and a candle on a grave in the West Cemetery in Munich on November 1st, 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

On All Saints’ Day, it’s customary to decorate graves of the deceased with flowers, candles and even food and drink.

While the day is recognised as a religious feast day throughout Germany, only the more traditionally Catholic states of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland offer a public holiday. 

Useful vocabulary for this holiday: 

To commemorate someone/something – jemaden/etwas gedenken

Grave – (die) Grabe

Day of Prayer and Repentance – Wednesday, November 16th

Where: Saxony and Bavaria (for school children)

READ ALSO: Saxony public holiday: What’s the history behind ‘Buß und Bettag’?

Every year, the Wednesday before Totensonntag  (the Sunday of the dead – this year November 20th) – is known as the Day of Prayer and Repentance.

Historically, Buß und Bettag was a call to the nation to pray together and confess sins, in the hope that this would prevent future disasters.

Today, the holiday is used for reflection on individual and social issues and many Protestant congregations hold services on this day for this purpose.

Up until 1995, the religious holiday was a national holiday, but now it is only a day off for everyone in Saxony and for school children in Bavaria.

Useful vocabulary for this holiday: 

To pray – beten

To confess sins – die Sünde bekennen

Christmas Day – Sunday, December 25th

Where: Nationwide

One of the most important days in the Christian calendar, the celebration which commemorates the birth of Jesus is always a nationwide public holiday in Germany.

Candles decorate a Christmas tree in a living room. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Karl-Josef Hildenbrand

But, unlike, for example, in the UK, if it falls on a weekend, it’s not compensated for with a free weekday in the following week. That’s sadly the case this year, as the 25th will fall on a Sunday.  

READ ALSO: Should Germany ensure workers get a day off for every public holiday?

Useful vocabulary for this holiday: 

Christmas day – der erste Weihnachtstag

Boxing Day – Monday, December 26th 

Boxing day – or as it’s known in Germany, der zweite Weihnachtstag (the second Christmas day) is also always a nationwide holiday. 

In Germany, the 26th is traditionally a day to spend visiting grandparents or godparents. 

Luckily, this year, the 26th falls on a Monday, which means everyone in Germany will enjoy a day off for the last public holiday of the year. 

Useful vocabulary for this holiday: 

To visit – besuchen

What about 2023?

2023 doesn’t get off to a great start in terms of public holidays, as January 1st – New Year’s Day – like Christmas Day, falls on a Sunday, meaning that most Germans will miss out on a free day off work.

But, for the rest of the year, all of the other major holidays will fall on weekdays, so those in employment will get the most out of them. We’ll make sure to round them all up for you soon so you can plan your time off for next year. 

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