Today was my birthday.
It was also Good Friday, which means on the plus side that it’s a public holiday with neither school nor work. On the downside, it means that you can’t go out either, because Good Friday in Germany is a day where literally nothing is open. Many restaurants are closed, there are no sports events, no concerts, shows and other public events. Here in Bremen, they’re even closing down the annual Easter fair for an entire day, because the two big Christian churches feel offended by people daring to have fun on Good Friday. Oh yes, and if you’re feeling like having a party or going clubbing on Good Friday, best forget it, because dancing on a Good Friday is forbidden by law – the churches want it that way. You can usually get away with a private party, as long as you don’t bother the neighbours. But otherwise, you might as well be living in the world of Footloose for this one day.
As for the why, here is the usually quite reasonably Margot Käßmann, former Lutheran bishop of Hannover, ranting against Easter decorations and defending the “dance and fun” ban on Good Friday, because “we need a day of peace and quiet and contemplation”. Here is another Lutheran bishop with the same message. For some reason, I couldn’t find any statements by Catholic officials, even though the Good Friday dance and fun ban is usually a lot stricter in Catholic majority regions. Understandably, there is also a lot of opposition against this display of Christian privilege, as these articles from the Kölner Express, the Hamburger Morgenpost, the Münchener Abendzeitung and the Frankfurter Rundschau attest.
Now I’ve never been much for partying, besides I’m too old to dance the night away anyway. Nonetheless, my birthday being on Good Friday meant that going to a restaurant for lunch or dinner was out, because nothing was open. So I had lunch at home with my parents instead. We had pork curry, which is definitely against the rules on Good Friday as well, but which also happens to be my favourite food. And tonight, I settled down on the sofa and decided to engage in quiet contemplation of life, death and the meaning of either by (re)watching The Avengers on DVD, because it’s loud and full of explosions and just plain fun and would likely annoy the “Good Friday should be quiet” types. Even though it’s a movie about friendship and heroism and sacrifices and fighting the good fight, so I suspect Jesus would approve. I actually do have an unwatched episode of Game of Thrones lying around, but watching Game of Thrones isn’t really something that makes you happy, so The Avengers it was.
An unexpected side effect of having your birthday fall on the Easter weekend is that people tend to forget you. I usually get a couple of congratulations phone calls from family and friends, but today only my cousin remembered. Well, at least nobody rang me out of bed on a public holiday at 8 AM, as has happened in past years.
Of course, I got presents as well. Mostly books, because – well, I love books: