Take Sunday off, it's the law
June 17, 2014
The 19th in the Insider's Tips for Auslaender series, which focuses on ways to make the most of your tour in Bavaria. Look for articles with this tag and if you have tips or suggestions for future articles, email email@example.com.
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- The term "lazy Sunday" originated well before Andy Samberg decided to rap about it on Saturday Night Live, but living abroad will bring a heightened awareness to the fitting phrase.
Here in Germany, Sundays are sacred. Shops are closed and the hustle and bustle of town centers ceases to exist, if only for a day.
Unwritten rules persist as well -- Sunday is a day of ruhe (quiet), and you will notice no one runs the lawn mower or vacuum on this day. Disobedience of this unwritten rule will result in disapproving looks from your German neighbors.
Likewise, Germany and many of its European counterparts have held a long resistance to Sunday shopping, despite an ever-growing economy. There are exceptions in some major cities speckled across Germany, but for most of the smaller Bavarian towns, Sunday is a time for reflection.
"You go to church; spend time with family; maybe visit with Oma and Opa; take a walk," said Ingrid Knodt, an administrative support assistant at the Reserve Component Affairs Office in Grafenwoehr, who grew up in the neighboring town of Kaltenbrunn. "Sunday is the day of rest, you have the rest of the week to work."
This tradition of upholding the Sabbath comes from the Bible, which declares after God created the world and everything in it, he rested on the seventh day, Sunday.
Bavarians are very traditional and Catholicism pervades into everyday life. And while the practice is based on faith, it's also a law.
Article 139 of the German constitution states, "Sunday and holidays recognized by the state shall remain protected by law as days of rest from work and of spiritual improvement."
There are a few exceptions to this rule, but neighboring towns are allowed by law to operate "open Sundays" eight times a year.
During these special days, shops open for business, usually with impressive sales, and the townspeople gather to celebrate the livelihood with a street fair.
Until then, though, take that time to simply relax. It is Sunday after all.