Summer Holidays by Berkeley – Part 1
As an international PR agency, we frequently discuss summer plans with our colleagues across the globe. Each country has its own unique traditions and events, with some escaping on extended breaks, while others continue business as usual due to their geographic location. We thought it’d be intriguing to compile these experiences in a global blog!
So, let’s kick this off with Germany
In contrast to our French neighbours or one of our personal favourite travel destinations, Italy, where the countries fall into a kind of Sleeping Beauty-esque slumber – at least in the non-tourist sectors – Germany divides the summer rather meticulously by federal state. In regular rotation, the summer holidays in the various states start earlier or later from June onwards – the only exceptions being Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, which always bring up the rear at the end of July and have school holidays until mid-September.
So, the country does not sleep collectively, but takes turns to rest, distributing the holidays evenly over the warmer months. For us as an agency, this means we are always at the starting line (even if we may sometimes be in smaller numbers) to accompany the slightly dreamy events awake, to receive and give impulses and to prepare for the lush autumn.
Importantly, the office is kept well stocked with chilled drinks and we enjoy the balmy summer evenings – with perhaps one or two visits to the beer gardens together.
(By Berkeley Kommunikation Germany: Heike Hering-Haas)
Now, let’s head to the UK!
In the UK, the moment the rain takes a pause (and sometimes when it’s just a ‘light’ rain), barbecues emerge from storage. In my family, at least, barbecuing becomes our primary method of cooking throughout the summer. Alongside this, it’s essential to have at least one TV at home or in the office constantly streaming Wimbledon – a quintessential part of British summer tradition.
Another crucial element of the season is to locate an appealing beer garden where you can relish a cold pint of beer or cider, all while grumbling about the heat. That’s not exclusive to beer gardens either. If you’re sunbathing in a park or spending the day at the beach, anywhere outside really, it’s almost a cultural requirement to comment on the temperature and assert how different British heat is from the heat in other places.
Summer also signifies the peak vacation season for many, particularly families with children. These families often have to carefully schedule their holidays to avoid penalties for taking their kids out of school too early or late. The most popular destinations typically include Spain, France, or even a domestic staycation in the charming locales of Cornwall and Devon – where we can engage in a couple of different debates about scones.
(By Berkeley Communications Great Britain: Reece Dyer)
And what about the French?
In France, the long summer holidays are a tradition that’s not about to disappear any time soon. Schools close for two months in July and August, leaving parents juggling to find activities for their children – or ideally employing the services of the grandparents.
Every Saturday during these two months, traffic jams on the motorways hit record levels, with the majority of seasonal rentals starting on this day.
For businesses, there is a bit of a crossover between those who take three weeks (the average length for our summer holiday, taken out of five weeks of annual leave) in July and those who take it in August. This means you can expect a lot of difficulty trying to get hold of an employee during the summer, either in July or August, as they’ll probably be on holiday.
It’s fair to say that, apart from tourism, France’s economy slows down in the summer. Similarly, the construction industry traditionally comes to a complete standstill in August, with many of its migrants returning to their countries of origin that month.
Even politicians take at least two weeks off in August, including the President, and parliament closes for a full month.
The press also slows down. Many specialist monthlies publish only one issue over both July and August, weeklies and dailies reduce their pagination, leaving journalists to cover only the most important news stories. On radio and television, the year’s programmes come to a halt and are replaced by special summer programmes, with many repeats. All the major news events are suspended.
In PR, we are no longer pitching anything between the 15th of July and the last week of August. Instead, we actively prepare for the autumn by investing our time in content development. This is because, from the beginning of September, we will have to double their efforts to make up for those two months of low activity.
Very few people are calling for the summer holidays to be shorter. Attempts are sometimes made but are quickly aborted, as the French are very attached to this summer break.
This makes July and August a perfect time to visit France, as people will be calmer and more available…or, at least, not at work!
(By Berkeley Communications France: Gilles Lyonnet)
Let’s see about our Neighbours in the Netherlands:
The labour participation of women increased significantly a few decades ago, and we thought that it would therefore be working all year and never really vacationing. Indeed, nowadays we are busy all year round – apart from summer and Christmas vacations, with everything coming to a standstill in.
During the summer, the Dutch fly a lot. There may only be a few of us, yet there is still nowhere in the world to escape the wonderful Dutch directness and our enviable vacation clothing. We pride ourselves on our English and if you don’t understand us, we’ll repeat it again for you but much louder (a trick we learnt from the Brits)!
If holidaying within Europe, especially when we have children with us, we pack our entire home furnishings, clothing collection and pantry into the caravan and bring it all along for the ride. We then collectively dive into Black Saturday on the French ´Autoroute du Soleil´, or travel en masse along the 146 ´Baustellen´ (construction sites) that the German ´Autobahn´ is traditionally surround by during the summer. Then we tell each other how we, very cleverly, did not get stuck in any traffic jams thanks to a super handy traffic jam app. This is often followed, once the phone has been in your face, by a demonstration of other handy apps – “Look, I just turned my lights on and off at home!”
The vacation period is also where we give our marriages one last chance, with divorces peaking after the summer (according to lawyers). Mainly though, we use the summers for good company, drink well for non-Germans and we care a lot about the children (sometimes even bring the neighbour’s along on our trips) . Dutch bosses are also lucky as, if deemed important enough, we are not afraid to open the laptop for a few hours. As a result, we get an update on where gasoline and rosé are the cheapest!
(By Berkeley Communications Netherlands: Piet van Reeuwijk)
It’s clear that summer holidays vary significantly around the world, shaped by traditions, culture, climate, and even workplace habits. As we continue to navigate these diverse global landscapes, Berkeley PR remains committed to understanding, appreciating, and communicating these nuances. After all, it is these differences that make our global tapestry so vibrant and exciting. So, no matter where you are, make sure to enjoy your summer holidays in your own special way, and remember, there’s always a story to tell.
Part 2 of this blog will be coming soon…