Sunday, September 30, 2012
Sonntag in Deutschland (Sunday in Germany)
Sunday is truly a day of rest here - by law. Wikipedia tells us Sonntagsruhe is the "legally protected peace and quiet on the work-free Sunday" (my translation). It's 11:20 a.m. as I write this, and I truly hear nothing outside except for a lonely dove and an occasional car passing by. Yesterday our neighbors were cutting down a tall tree, mowing their lawns, trimming hedges, hammering fence posts...but today it's quiet.
Unlike in Wisconsin, this is not a day to do yard work or wash the car. We are not allowed to use machines of any kind outside today, though hand-held tools and brooms that don't make noise are ok. If we did, the neighbors would have a right to complain directly to us, and summon the police if we are repeat offenders. Making noise with machines puts a person in bad relations with his neighbors, so it's less about the police and the law and more about the fact that it just isn't done.
Stores are closed today. There are exceptions in large touristy cities like München and Berlin, but in our small community there is no shopping today. Tough luck if you are cooking and forgot a major ingredient or ran out of wine last night. You should have planned better, and you won't likely make that mistake next Sunday.
I bagged up some glass bottles this morning to carry to the recycling containers, but before I left I fortunately remembered that it is not allowed to put things in the containers on Sundays - certainly not loud bottles that clank and break when tossed in. Those living close to the containers would be out scolding me in no time, and that's not the way I want to meet the people of Bildechingen.
The one exception to loud noises on a Sunday is the call to mass, when the church bells go crazy. This happens at about 9:45 a.m. It's a lovely sound, at least when one doesn't live directly across the street from the church.
Quite honestly, I find this a wonderful cultural tradition. How nice to have one day each week when the neighborhood is tranquil. It's a good day for a walk or bike ride, to sit outside on the patio enjoying nature, to get together with friends for Kaffee und Kuchen in the afternoon... There are no errands to run (because next to nothing is open), no heavy chores to accomplish (because one can't use power tools), and no appointments except those with friends and family.
I do like Sundays here very much. In Wisconsin I could choose to relax on a Sunday any time I wanted to, but my neighbors were still mowing, sawing, blowing leaves, and trimming bushes, so there was little peace. Here in Bildechingen I only hear the sounds of the birds, an occasional dog, our fountain, and now and then a human voice. Sunday may very well become my favorite day of the week.