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How you can make the most of Germany's 2019 public holidays

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How you can make the most of Germany's 2019 public holidays
Reformation Day is a public holiday in some states and takes place on October 31st. Photo: DPA
13:17 CET+01:00
Now we're into a new year, it's a good time to book some time off. Before you do, check out our list of Germany's official holiday days, including a likely new one for Berlin, and our tips for making the most of them.
Berlin is another step closer to receiving an extra public holiday - and it's one that will honour women.
 
A joint proposal by the coalition factions of the Social Democrats (SPD), the Left (Die Linke), and the Greens passed the Berlin House of Representatives at a first reading on Thursday and was referred to the interior committee. The final vote will take place on January 24th, reported BILD on Monday.
 
As early as 2019, Berliners could be given a day off work on March 8th. 
 
Not everyone is in agreement with the move. Members of the centre-right Christian Democrats said that surveys showed Berliners would prefer a Christian holiday, while the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party said a referendum should be held on the issue.
 
However, Katina Schubert, of the Left party, said making Women's Day a legal holiday "takes structural discrimination against women into account" and signals international solidarity with all women.
 
Women's Day for Berlin? Photo: DPA

Many Berliners feel that the introduction of an extra Feiertag is long overdue. Each of the 16 German states set their own public holidays and the capital has some of the fewest.

While Bavarians have 13 days off throughout the year (in reality fewer, as some always fall on the weekend), Berliners only have nine.

We detail public holidays in Germany below, as well as how you can make the most of your time off. 

SEE ALSO: Berlin moves step closer to gaining public holiday

How many holidays do you get?

The amount of holidays you're entitled to depends on how much you work. Under the Federal Holiday Act (Bundesurlaubsgesetz) the minimum statutory annual holiday entitlement is 20 days based on a five-day working week and 24 days based on a six-day working week.

However, in practice, most employers grant more paid vacation days; between 27 and 30 days' paid holiday are common for full-time staff. 

There are also a range of public holidays - or Feiertage - many of which range from state to state in Germany.

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

Look out for Brückentage

Many Germans take the Brückentage or Fenstertage (bridge days or window days) off. These are the days that lie between the public holiday and the days that you get off usually (for example the weekend), and make the holiday longer. Typical bridge days lie between Christmas and New Year or the Friday after Ascension Day,

These days might be booked off quickly by your colleagues so make sure you don't delay in asking your boss for time off then if you want it.

On bridge days, many production plants or factories close normal service and use the time for repair and maintenance work on machines. 

You'll find that public transport is often not so busy on the in-between days around a public holiday. 

Work-life balance

Don't shy away from booking time off in Germany. Holidays and relaxation time are taken very seriously.

There isn't a culture of staying at work as long as possible during the day after you've officially finished, and not taking annual leave because you want to impress your boss. This behaviour is frowned upon in the Bundesrepublik, with companies encouraging staff to take their time off.

Meanwhile, a landmark deal struck last year put work-life balance in the spotlight in Germany.

In February IG Metall, Germany’s biggest trade union representing metal and engineering workers, struck a deal that allows industrial employees the right to work a reduced week - 28 hours, instead of 35 - for up to two years in order to care for their families.

The agreement was described as a "milestone on the way to a modern, self-determined world of work," by IG Metall leader Jörg Hofmann.

This deal helps paint the picture that although work is important, Germans also truly value their lives outside the office.

Public holidays

Except for German Reunification Day, public holidays are determined by federal states. However, this year there are nine national public holidays that apply to every state on the same dates. On top of that, each region has its own holidays (although it differs from state to state, with some regions having much less than others.) 

It should be noted that in Germany, holidays that fall on a weekend are, unfortunately, not observed on a weekday instead.

SEE ALSO: The 10 most interesting cities to visit in 2019

Remember to think about school holidays, which may differ from state to state, when you're booking trips away.  The common break times for schools throughout the states and the months they usually take place are: Winter (February), Ostern/Früjahr (April), Himmelfahrt/Pfingsten (May/June), Sommer (June-August), Herbst (October) and Weihnachten (December).

The new year is a time to think about your priorities. Photo: DPA

Holidays celebrated throughout Germany

January 1st: New Year’s Day/Neujahr (Tuesday)

As New Year's Day fell on a Tuesday it was a good start to the year, giving workers the time off. Sadly, Epiphany on January 6th, which is a Feiertag in some states, fell on a Sunday meaning 9-5 workers missed out on it. 

April 19th: Good Friday/Karfreitag

April 22nd: Easter Monday/Ostermontag

May 1st: Workers’ Day/Tag der Arbeit (Wednesday)

May 30th: Ascentation Day/Christi Himmelfahrt (Thursday)

June 10th: Whit/Pentacost Monday/Pfingstmontag (Monday)

October 3rd: Reunification Day/Tag der Deutschen Einheit (Thursday)

December 25th: Christmas Day/Weihnachtsfeiertag 1 (Wednesday)

December 26th: St Stephen’s Day/Weihnachtsfeiertag 2 (Thursday)

This year, the Christmas days off both fall on weekdays so workers can take the bridge days around them off to make the most of the holiday time. 

It should be noted that some firms will also give full days or half days off to staff on December 24th and December 31st but that depends on the company. 

Now here's a breakdown of the additional holidays across states in Germany this year:

Baden-Württemberg

January 6th: Epiphany (Sunday)

Sadly this fell on a weekend day so 9-5 workers did not receive a day off. 

June 20th: Corpus Christi/Fronleichnam (Thursday)

November 1st: All Saints’ Day/Allerheiligen (Friday)

Bavaria

January 6th: Epiphany (Sunday)

June 20th: Corpus Christi/Fronleichnam (Thursday)

August 15th: The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary/Mariä Himmelfahrt (Thursday)

November 1st: All Saints’ Day/Allerheiligen (Friday)

Berlin

TBC March 8th: International Women’s Day (Friday) 

This day isn't 100 percent confirmed but as we've explained above, it's looking likely that Berliners will be given this day as a holiday.

Brandenburg

October 31st: Reformation Day/Reformationstag (Thursday)

Bremen

October 31st: Reformation Day/Reformationstag (Thursday)

Hamburg

October 31st: Reformation Day/Reformationstag (Thursday)

Hessen

June 20th: Corpus Christi/Fronleichnam (Monday)

Mecklenburg-West Pomerania

October 31st: Reformation Day/Reformationstag (Thursday)

Niedersachsen

October 31st: Reformation Day/Reformationstag (Thursday)

North Rhine-Westphalia

June 20th: Corpus Christi/Fronleichnam (Monday)

November 1st: All Saints’ Day/Allerheiligen (Friday)

Rhineland-Palatinate

June 20th: Corpus Christi/Fronleichnam (Monday)

November 1st: All Saints’ Day/Allerheiligen (Friday)

Saarland

June 20th: Corpus Christi/Fronleichnam (Monday)

August 15th: The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary/Mariä Himmelfahrt (Thursday)

November 1st: All Saints’ Day/Allerheiligen (Friday)

Saxony

October 31st: Reformation Day/Reformationstag (Thursday)

November 20th: Day of Repentance and Prayer/Buß und Bettag (Wednesday)

Saxony-Anhalt

October 31st: Reformation Day/Reformationstag (Thursday)

Schleswig-Holstein

October 31st: Reformation Day/Reformationstag (Thursday)

Thuringia

September 20th: World Children’s Day/Weltkindertag (Friday)

October 31st: Reformation Day/Reformationstag (Thursday)

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