'Bridge days': How to maximise public holidays like a German this May

Rachel Loxton
Rachel Loxton - [email protected]
'Bridge days': How to maximise public holidays like a German this May
A group of men hike and enjoy a drink on Father's Day in Germany in 2023. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Thomas Warnack

2024 is a good year for public holidays in Germany - and May is especially great. Here's how you can make the most of the days off.


This year is a good one for public holidays in Germany. 

On top of the 20 days of annual leave that employees get in Germany (with many companies offering up to 30), there are nine nationwide public holidays or Feiertag.

READ ALSO: Vacation days in Germany: What to know about your rights as an employee

On top of that there are a number of regional holidays, with Bavaria getting the most. It typically has a total of 13 public holidays each year whereas Berlin has 10. 

In Germany (and many other European countries) if the holiday happens to fall on a weekday, workers get an extra day off. If, however, the event falls on a Saturday or a Sunday there is no extra day off and the holiday is 'lost'. That differs to the UK, for instance. 

But while previous years have had a notoriously high number of national holidays fall on the weekend, things have been looking up in 2024, with most holidays falling during the week. 

And that gives employees even more chances to maximise their days off by combining these days off with their annual leave by taking Brückentage or bridge days off around the Feiertag

READ ALSO: Brückentage, Fenstertag or Zwickeltag: All the German words for getting longer holidays

Why is May a good month?

Apart from spring fever kicking in and ice cream shops opening, this time of year is typically a good month for doing less work. 

Most people in Germany got the day off on Wednesday May 1st for International Workers' Day (known in Germany as Tag der Arbeit).

But you'll be glad to here that there's a few more to come. 


Ascension Day (Christi Himmelfahrt) is on Thursday May 9th and is a public holiday. This is also Fathers' Day in Germany so you can expect to see people (particularly groups of men) gathering for drinks in cities and villages around the country as is tradition. 

READ ALSO: Why Germans get drunk on Ascension Day

Later in the month Monday May 20th is Whit Monday (Pfingstmontag) which is also a public holiday. 

A mug of beer on a beer garden table.

Germans might flock to the beer gardens during the public holidays. Photo: Engin Akyurt/Pexels

Some lucky people will be able to enjoy a regional holiday which arrives on Thursday May 30th for Corpus Christi (Fronleichnam). Workers in Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland will likely get the day off. It's also marked in some parts of Saxony and Thuringia. 

Meanwhile, it's worth putting in your diary that Mother's Day is celebrated in Germany on Sunday May 12th (although this isn't an official public holiday).

Get your bridge days in... 

In May, you could take 12 days off with six days of leave, thanks to two public holidays which fall on two consecutive weeks: Labour Day on Wednesday, May 1st and Ascension Day on Thursday, May 9th. 

You can, in turn, request leave on May 2nd-3rd, May 6th-8th and May 10th, allowing you to take time off from May 1st through to the 12th.

For an extra four free days, plan on taking off Friday, May 17th to enjoy the weekend and Whit Monday, which falls on May 20th in 2024. 

READ ALSO: How do Germany’s public holidays compare to other EU countries?


Autumn holidays

Looking ahead to later in the year, in October you can use four vacation days to stay off work for a total of nine days. German Unity Day falls on Thursday, October 3rd this year.

Book September 30th, October 1st-2nd, and October 4th off to extend your time off. 

If you’d like to head on holiday later in the month, every German state except Berlin and Hesse has a public holiday on either October 31st or November 1st.

READ ALSO: The days workers in Germany will get off in 2024 

Christmas holidays and New Year

In Germany, the restful period between Christmas and January 1st is known as zwischen den Jahren, or "between the years". Many companies close their doors during this period, but for those who don’t, it’s the norm for employees to take a couple of weeks off to spend with their families or just have some much-deserved downtime.

READ ALSO: German phrase of the day: Zwischen den Jahren

This year Christmas Day and Boxing Day - the 25th and 26th - fall on Wednesday and Thursday.

If employees take three days off during this time, they can receive nine days at home: simply select December 23rd, 24th and 27th off, and stay home from Saturday, December 21st through December 29th.

Note that it’s a common practice for German companies to give employees the 24th off, even when it’s not an official Feiertag, so you may just need to take off two days.

If you also choose to take off December 30th and 31st, you can invest up to five days and stay home for 12. 



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