Today is Sunday. Sundays, all over the Western world, tend to be a bit quieter than the rest. People get up late, go to church, do things with the family, maybe do some yard work, and generally just take it easy. Lots of stores have reduced hours, usually opening late and closing a bit early.
They take that to a whole different level here in Germany, though. Sunday in Germany is a Ruhetag, meaning quiet day. They take that literally. Nothing, save a few cafes, is open. The busses barely run. Every shop, every single one, is closed. The towns quite literally shut down for a day. Need groceries? Tough. Need something to do some work on your room or in the yard? Tough. I’ve never seen a place so quiet as Germany on a Sunday.
Germans are very big on the value of family, and this is the major argument put forth for why Sundays are so quiet. They take the day to take time with their family, many of them going for hikes on the excellently maintained trails in the woods. Conversely, as empty as the streets are on Sunday is as full as the trails are. Many Germans are fiercely protective of this Ruhetag, and argue that it is the best day of the week, and that the American way of Sunday being just another shopping day is terrible. I agree with them somewhat, and think that I would enjoy it as well–except for one problem. My family is 3000 miles away, and so Sundays for me are a day to sit in my room, bored, and figure out what I’m going to do for the rest of the week. I can’t easily get into town, can’t easily visit friends, and certainly can’t get much of anything done. As such, I’m somewhat split on the matter. I think Sunday Ruhetage are great, but like most of the foreign students, I just get bored.