When looking at the calendar for 2021 - in terms of public holidays - there is a lot to say for a good year.

Every German employee has an average of 29 vacation days.

And if you reserve 22 of them in order to cleverly place them before, after and between public holidays (regional as well as national), you can build several leisure bridges with a total of 52 days.

That’s the theory.

In practice, however, this calculation only applies to Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, the two federal states with the highest number of public holidays.

In the northern part of Germany, on the other hand, employees only have to have 18 vacation days up their sleeves, because in these Protestant regions there are significantly fewer “holiday pillars” so that only “bridge constructions” with a total of 39 days off are possible.

That still sounds good, but it doesn't come close to the earlier "bridge building years".

The reason: in 2021, four of the nine national holidays will fall on a weekend day.

Or to put it another way: Of the just five moving holidays among the nine national holidays (New Year's Day, May Day, National Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day), which can be both weekend and weekend days, this year four are celebrated on a Saturday or Sunday .

For comparison: Last year this only affected two public holidays.


The regional holidays in 2021 do not look any better, because two important Christian religious festivals (Assumption of Mary and Reformation Day) will be celebrated on one Sunday.

Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Saxony-Anhalt benefit

In terms of public holidays, Berliners are hit particularly badly this year.

May 8, 2021 will again be a normal working day in the capital.

Because the commemoration day for the unconditional surrender of the German Wehrmacht in 2020 marked the 75th anniversary, the red-red-green Senate had declared him to be free - but only for last year.

Those who secure bridging days in good time can often treat themselves to a little break - like here on Lake Constance

Source: Getty Images / Westend61

Compared to regional holidays, with which state governments are increasingly proceeding at their own discretion, Christian solemn festivals are “a solid castle” (to put it with Luther) in the calendar - and thus provide planning security.

Around the turn of the year.

In 2020/21, however, things looked rather poor for bridge builders, as Christmas Day 2020 was a Saturday.

Anyone who took four days of vacation from December 28 to 31, 2020, received at least ten days of leisure time.


The public sector employees in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Saxony-Anhalt had a much better time: They were able to build a mega-bridge from December 24th, 2020 through January 1st, 2021 (New Year) and January 6th (Epiphany) to December 10th January (Sunday) by building from December 28th to 31st

as well as January 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th, that is, eight vacation days became 18 days off in a row.

Background: The civil servants of these three federal states are off work on Epiphany (regional holiday) and also benefit from an agreement between the federal government, the federal states and the trade unions that came into force in 2013, according to which December 24th and 31st are also day off.

"Both days are to be paid as if the employees had worked on those days," confirms Ver.di spokesman Günter Isemeyer.

A regulation that the unions would like to push through for all employees in Germany.

Which means that it should only be a matter of time before December 24th is declared a public holiday, as is already the case in the Czech Republic and Estonia.

Bridging days around Easter 2021


Either way - on January 11, 2021, a long dry spell began for all German employees.

Because between Epiphany and Good Friday, the next Christian festival, there are twelve calendar weeks without public holidays.

With one exception: in 2019 the Berlin Senate declared International Women's Day (March 8) a regional holiday;

it will be celebrated on a Monday in 2021 - and certainly with a large accompanying program, because the proclamation of Women's Day, which originated in Western Europe in 1911, will be 100 years old in 2021.

Berliners who apply for (and receive) vacation from March 9th to 12th can turn four vacation days into nine days off.

On Good Friday (April 2nd) the (calendar) page turns again in favor of all employees.

And since Easter Monday (April 5) is also a national holiday, a ten-day open bridge can be built with four days of vacation (March 29 to April 1 or April 6 to 9).

A tip for Brandenburgers: Brandenburg is the only German federal state to explicitly treat Easter Sunday as a public holiday - so anyone who has to work on April 4 is entitled to an alternative day of rest.

The whole thing is then repeated on Pentecost Sunday (May 23) - it is also only in Brandenburg under special holiday protection.

14 vacation days become 25 days off

May is usually a wonderful month for bridge builders, but 2021 is a little disappointing.

Labor Day (May 1st), which is celebrated nationwide, is a Saturday.

Then comes Ascension Day (May 13th), which is always a Thursday;

Anyone who takes vacation on the following Friday (May 14th) has four days off - it is the classic among the annual leisure bridges.

The “bridging” between Ascension Day and Whit Monday (May 24th) is also very popular, as it gives twelve days off, provided that May 14th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st are vacation days.

Then it continues with Corpus Christi, a solemn festival that is celebrated on the second Thursday after Pentecost.

Corpus Christi (June 3rd) is not a national holiday, but is limited to parts of western Germany (Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland) as well as to Catholic communities in Saxony and Thuringia.

With a vacation day taken on June 4th, employees in these federal states have four days off.


Those who want to get the absolute maximum out of it, combine Ascension and Pentecost with Corpus Christi.

Then 14 vacation days (May 14, May 17 to 21, May 25 to 28, May 31, June 1, June 2, and June 4) become 25 days off in a row.

Thuringia does not come close to Bavaria despite the new holiday

July, August and September are a total failure in terms of bridging days.

This even applies to those federal states with regional holidays.

Assumption of Mary (August 15), for example, is free of school and work for Bavaria and Saarlanders, but in 2021 the Catholic holiday falls on a Sunday, so it is of no interest for bridge builders.

In 2019, workers in Thuringia received World Children's Day as an additional regional holiday from their red-red-green state government - nice for them, because September 20, 2021 is a Monday.

By the way: Despite the new public holidays for Berliners and Thuringians, Bavaria continues to lead with a total of 13 public holidays;

The Augsburgers even have 14th with their locally applicable High Peace Festival (by the way, it is the only state-protected urban holiday worldwide).

October is blessed with two public holidays, but both - the nationwide Day of German Unity (October 3) and Reformation Day (October 31) - fall on a Sunday in the coming year.

The latter will especially annoy the residents of Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony, Hamburg and Bremen, who only got the Protestant holiday as a regional holiday in 2018;

So far, Reformation Day has only been work-free in the five eastern German states.

Christmas is unfavorable for employees

All Saints' Day (November 1st) is also regionally limited as a Catholic celebration, namely to Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland;

however, a longer leisure bridge cannot be built in 2021 - November 1st is a Monday and therefore more suitable for a long weekend.

In general, November is of no interest to German bridge builders;

only the Saxons have a proper "pillar" with the day of penance and prayer, because the regional holiday is always celebrated on the Wednesday before eternity Sunday, the last Sunday of the church year;

In 2021 it is November 17th.

At the end of the year there is usually again the opportunity for all German citizens to increase their “free time”.

Unfortunately not in 2021. Because Christmas is entirely on the weekend;

the two nationwide non-working Christmas holidays (December 25th and 26th) fall on Saturday and Sunday.

Which is actually a classic case for the German trade unions: You could take an example from Great Britain, Belgium and Spain, where all bank holidays that are on a weekend are made up on the following working day.

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Source: WELT / Isabell Finzel