Germans have at least 9 1/2 and as many as 14 1/2 (if you live in the city of Augsburg) legal Holidays. In America we have 10. Sounds about even right? Good. Oh, and that half of a day is Christmas Eve, where pretty much everything is closed by 2pm so everybody can be at home. Now, according to CNN, Americans receive an average of 14 days paid vacation per year, while Germans average 30 days per year. That’s not even close. But here’s the real kicker. Germans have 52 other days that Americans don’t have. Sundays! Now I’m sure you are saying “Hey, we get Sunday’s off too!”, and technically we do. But that is exactly what I am getting at in this post.
German vacations rock. German holidays rock. German Sundays rock. Why you ask? Because Germans take their time off very seriously. Try buying a TV on a Sunday. EEEEHHHHH! (That is the game show buzzer sound) Wrong answer! They are closed on Sundays and holidays. A pair of shoes? EEEEHHHHH! Closed. Shampoo? EEEEHHHHH! Closed. Got a project around the house and need some supplies? EEEEHHHHH! Closed. You get the picture right? Unless you want to get something to eat or get some gas, you can pretty much forget about it. And for the proof that Germans take their vacations seriously, you only need to check out their law concerning minimum vacation time. That’s right, they have an actual law for it.
Some would argue that this is more inconvenient than in America, where the only days where EVERYTHING is closed except a gas station or two is Christmas. But that is missing the point. It is definitely more convenient to be able to go to the home improvement store on Sunday when you need some things for a project. It is definitely easier (and cheaper) to go to the grocery store on a Sunday instead of looking for which gas station is open. It is definitely nice to be able to go to Wal-Mart on Sunday or at 11pm when you forget something. It is definitely also helpful to be able to shop late into the evening on Christmas Eve. Here is the problem with all of that logic. Americans don’t know how to relax anymore.
That’s what Germans do on all of those Sundays, and holidays, and gazillion vacation days. Relax. And it’s not all lazy Sundays either. I would argue that Germans are more active than Americans. I mean, just wait for the next sunny day and it doesn’t matter if it’s 30 degrees or 80. Germans will come out of the woodwork, and there will be hikers, bikers, joggers, and walkers everywhere. Either way, they are relaxing. I think Americans are way too busy these days, and just have forgotten to slow down and enjoy a day off. I mean, do you really need to redo your entire back yard this weekend. Can’t you make sure to get your shopping done before 10pm on Christmas Eve. And do you really need the ability to buy a TV at 2am in Wal-Mart? I used to, but not anymore. Now I welcome the ghost town that is German Sundays and Holidays, and envy my Father-in-law and his gazillion vacation days. And those are just what’s left over from last year.