Letter From Germany
Germany does not move holidays to create long weekends, as some countries practice. Each one falls on whatever day of the week the calendar dictates. Most holidays have a religious origin, even if few attend church these days. Six of the ten holidays recognized in all states (Catholic states celebrate one or two more) fall in the second quarter of the year, making that a time of less productivity. Holidays that fall during the week are called “worker friendly”, while those on the weekend are known as “employer friendly”. Employees particularly enjoy a holiday that falls on a Thursday or Tuesday, because one day of vacation (“bridge day”) lets them enjoy four days off work.
Yesterday was May 1, Tag der Arbeit (Day of Work, which is a misnomer, because only the police enjoy riot duty and earn overtime pay), which was “employer friendly” this year. It is one of the few non-religious holidays and is marked by union demonstrations and fiery political speeches. Of course, the United States has a different day for laborers, because it would be impossible to celebrate a holiday so closely connected with communism. Although this day should be about work, the Soviet Union always managed to turn it into a celebration of military “might” with their traditional May Day parade through Red Square. In Germany, the only militancy is displayed by demonstrators against atomic weaponry and, now, atomic energy. Union officials and left-leaning politicians have also been known to deliver volatile speeches, but have little effect on the status quo. Most people just enjoy the day off, although yesterday’s holiday was wasted on a Sunday!
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Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.