Sundays are quiet days in Germany - by law
Sundays are quiet days in Germany - by law

Sundays are usually very quiet in Germany. It can seem as if there is nothing open, no one is doing any housework and it seems a few more people are walking about outside. This is due to the laws that dictate life in Germany on these days.

Other than shops in gas stations, train stations or airports, most shops are usually closed on Sundays. All that is open are restaurants, museums and transportation centers. This is due to the Ladenschlussgesetz or "Store-closing law," which forbid stores from operating on Sundays.

Tough laws on shopping

The Ladenschlussgesetz was put into effect in 1956 in former West Germany. The law stayed this way with only minor revisions until 2006. On top of this, Article 140 of Germany’s constitution, the "Grundgesetz" or "Basic Law" dictates Sunday as a day of rest, just like the Bible. This was not the case in former East Germany, which did allow Sunday shopping until reunification, when it used the West German model.

In 2006, individual states in Germany were given the duty to determine the amount of time shops could be open. In every state except for Bavaria and Saarland, some shops are allowed to open on select Sundays throughout the year, but the number of Sundays varies by state. For example, Berlin has allowed eight Sundays for shops to be open in 2017, while North Rhine- Westphalia allows up to 11 Sundays for business per year. The only shops that are usually open on Sundays are convenience stores, which are commonly known as Kiosks or "Spätkaufs" (late-shopping stores).

Do not disturb

Sunday is also a day of rest at home in Germany. Though what is considered as "Quiet law" varies from town to town, it is generally frowned upon to do any noisy housework on Sundays in Germany. This includes using motor-driven lawn equipment, such as a lawnmower, or home equipment like a loud vacuum. Otherwise, you could be slapped with a fine or seen in court if a neighbor thinks you’re too loud, even if it’s not Sunday.

One is expected to keep noise to a reasonable level throughout the day, but keep quiet overnight. German magazine Der Spiegel noted in 2006 that the "Ruhezeit" (quiet time) is between 8 pm and 7 am (20:00-7:00) Monday-Saturday and all day on Sunday and holidays.

Some areas, such as Hamburg, also have mid-day quiet hours between 1-3pm.

Even if you don't make much noise, you can still get in trouble with your neighbors or the law. It is illegal to wash a car in anything other than an approved facility, for example. There have been cases where a neighbor was taken to court after having barbeques or even smoking. Germans live in tight quarters so it is best to ask your neighbors what is and is not allowed in order to avoid any problems.

So like the rest of Germany, be certain to take not just work seriously, but rest as well.


More articles