Yesterday was Nationalfeiertag (the national holiday), the 62nd anniversary of the second republic, commemorating the day Austria was reestablished by the Allies as an independent, sovereign state after the Second World War.
Although I caught myself without groceries again – thanks to yet another holiday – it’s pretty fantastic to be forced to take time off on such a regular basis. With 13 official holidays over the year, Austria ranks 9th alongside Norway, Belgium, South Korea and Taiwan. Fun fact: Sri Lanka comes out on top with 25 holidays.
My American upbringing conditioned me towards being a workaholic in school, at work and in life; so one of the reasons that I love living here is that work-life balance isn’t a choice, it happens to you. Occasionally I seem to trip over the unexpected downtime – Especially if I forget about a deadline that’s right after a Feiertag (holiday). But sometimes, I use Austria’s unfamiliar and numerous days off to my advantage.
It wasn’t until I started working here that I learned the phrase “Fenstertag” (window day), describing that one workday between a holiday and a weekend, like when Nationalfeiertag happens on a Thursday. An excellent opportunity to seize your “window” and plan a 4-day getaway using only one vacation day. Such fortuitous chances abound, with the next Feiertag, Allerheiligen (All Saints’ Day) on November 1, already around the corner: for an additional 2 vacation days, you could have an entire week off!
Of course, the calendar is not always that kind: Immaculate Conception on December 8 falls on a Friday this year, so it’s a simple three-day weekend with no “windows;” and if the holiday falls on a weekend, it’s rendered moot. Still, the extra mini-vacations scattered over the year are a welcome chance to recharge your batteries, and a major contributor to quality of life. It may take some time to unlearn your hardworking urges, but never fear: in a nation where not much happens in offices on Fridays afternoon, you’re not missing much by staying home on a Fenstertag. In that spirit, Happy Allerheiligen!