Sunday, May 8, 2016

Walking in Munich with my teenage daughter

On the Friday of the four-day Christihimmelfahrt weekend, we enjoyed a sunny shopping day in downtown Munich. Christ's Ascension is a bank holiday in southern Germany, falling 39 days after Easter, always on a Thursday. The school calendar takes Friday off as a Brückentag--bridge day--to connect the holiday with the weekend. Since German shops are closed on holidays, this arrangement makes a nice combination of non-commercial time off and a couple of days with full-on commerce.

This year, all the May vacations are two weeks earlier than last year. Good thing May 1st (Tag der Arbeit, or Labor Day) fell on a Sunday this year, or we would have had even fewer days of school. As it is, the month of May reduces to one 3-day school week, one full school week, and two weeks off for Pfingstferien, or Pentecost. (The last two days in May join a holiday-free month of June. If you're counting, that's a mere ten school days this month.) In the USA, we're accustomed to getting "make-up" bank holidays when national holidays fall on a weekend day. Not the case in Germany. The days fall when they fall. Years that result in fewer paid days off are called Arbeitgeberfreundlich (employer-friendly, with the word for employer being "work giver"). Years in which the holidays fall on weekdays are called Arbeitnehmerfreundlich (employee-friendly, with a word that takes an interesting perspective: "work taker" for employee).

While walking on the cobblestone plaza with my daughter in Munich, I enjoyed one of the interesting conversations the two of us have these days (she's sixteen).

Mom: I love my flat red shoes, but they don't give me any support.

Daughter: Life is like that.

Mom: You mean, the people and things you love the most don't give you any support?

Daughter: No, I mean life is flat, and it doesn't give you any support.

Happy Mother's Day!