They had this cool rule in Germany when we lived there -- as soon as the mercury hit 86, school was out. It was the law.

Hitzefrei was the word they used to call this special day, and just typing it makes my toes dance.

My wife tells of our boys' very first day of 6th grade, when we were new to Germany. She shows up at the normal time with the dog to pick up the twins at the JFK Schule in Berlin. She finds the boys on the playground, pissed. Everyone else was released hours before.


Who knew?

Why didn't anyone inform us? she wondered. Who announces a national holiday? We quickly learned that for most things the Germans give children a little more rope than we were used to. It's hot. No school. Go somewhere and soak.

The problem with all that free time is that legions of Berliners would go to the Tiergarten or the Teufelsee and take it all off. It was never the people you wanted to be naked who were naked. And you never wanted to go into a sauna without sunglases.