How to make the most out of your holiday leave in 2020
How to make the most out of your holiday leave in 2020
You may think we’re getting ahead of ourselves, but if you’re working in Germany it’s time to book your holiday leave for the coming year! Those wanting to make the best use of regional and national holidays to build longer breaks need to hurry before all the best days are taken.
Bridge days in Germany in 2020
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: 2020 is not a good year for bridge-builders (those who use so-called “bridge days” (Brückentage) to make longer breaks out of public holidays that fall mid-week). Next year, two out of nine national holidays fall on the weekend. So do four regional holidays.
But, if you plan wisely, you can make the most of what’s available. Here are our top tips for booking holidays for the coming year.
Christmas and New Year 2019 / 2020
We should all thank our lucky stars - Christmas and New Year 2019 fall in the middle of the week, allowing for a weekend bridge of up to eight days. In layman’s terms, that means that you can book off just three days (December 27, 30 and 31) and put your feet up for the whole luxurious stretch from December 25 to January 1, 2020.
If you work in the public sector, you’re even better off, as a collective agreement struck between the government, the federal states and the trade unions means that December 24 and 31 are also free days for public sector workers.
And if you live in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria or Saxony-Anhalt, the states where Epiphany is officially observed on January 6, you only need to take an extra two days off (January 2 and 3) to get your holiday extended right through to January 7. Merry Christmas!
Long road without holidays from Epiphany to Easter
From January onwards begins something of a dry spell, as between Epiphany and Good Friday lie 14 miserable weeks without any holidays to speak of, regional or national. Since last year, International Women’s Day has been considered an official holiday in Berlin - but as it falls on a Sunday in 2020 it’s no use to us right now.
Easter spells a change in bridge-builders' fortunes. Since both Good Friday and Easter Monday are national holidays, savvy workers can nab a 10-day holiday by booking only four days off (April 6 to 9 or April 14 to 17).
A special note to all Brandenburgers out there: only in this state is Easter Sunday explicitly considered a public holiday, so if you have to work on April 12 you are also entitled to an additional day of leave. The same goes for Pentecost Sunday on May 31.
Bridge days a-plenty in May and June in Germany
May is always a merry month for bridge building, and this year it does not disappoint. Labour Day (May 1) falls on a Friday, followed by Ascension Day (May 21), which is always on a Thursday. Not only does this provide ample opportunity for a pair of four-day weekends, but those clever enough to bridge from Ascension Day right through to Whit Monday (June 1) can have a full 12 days off. Just remember to book off May 22, 25, 26, 27 and 28 as holiday.
Then comes Corpus Christi, observed on the second Thursday after Pentecost (June 11) in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland. With just one day’s leave (June 12), employees in these states can take a lovely four-day weekend.
Summer is a disaster for bridge days
Unfortunately the months of July, August and September have nothing to offer in terms of bridge days in 2020, even in states with regional holidays. Residents in Bavaria and Saarland cannot feel smug about their special holiday Assumption Day (August 15), as it falls on a Saturday this year.
Just this year, Thuringia announced that World Children’s Day would be observed as an extra regional holiday - not that it brings anyone much... September 20 is a Sunday this year.
Autumn doesn’t look much better
Normally, we have two holidays to look forward to in October, but next year both the nationwide German Unification Day (October 3) and the regional Reformation Day (October 31) fall on a Saturday. This is an especially bitter pill to swallow for the states of Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony, Hamburg and Bremen, as they have only celebrated the Protestant holiday since 2018.
Neither can All Saints’ Day (November 1), which is only celebrated in a handful of Catholic-leaning federal states, offer some respite from the world of work. November 1 also falls on a Sunday this year. What is going on?
The only state that can manage to squeeze anything out of the month of November is Saxony, where the Day of Repentance and Prayer is observed every November 18. Falling on a Wednesday, as always, it does at least hold the promise of a day off, even if it’s not particularly useful from a bridge-building perspective.
Christmas 2020 holds the promise of a 10-day recovery
2020 is most certainly not a lucky year: as we head into the Christmas period it cannot escape anyone’s notice that the two nationwide non-working Christmas holidays (December 25 and 26) fall on a Friday and a Saturday. But on the bright side, that means those taking December 28 to 31 as holiday leave can have until January 3 to recover from that Christmas hangover.
2020 is a “bad holiday year”
All in all, therefore, 2020 is not a very good year for employees, who on average have to work three days more than they would do during a “good holiday year”. But, if you want to make the most of a bad lot, it’s time to get booking that leave!