GermanPod101.com Blog
Learn German with Free Daily
Audio and Video Lessons!
Start Your Free Trial 6 FREE Features

Archive for the 'German Translation' Category

Top German Etiquette and Manners

Thumbnail

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about German people?

You’ve probably heard things like “German people are always on time,” and “They’re direct and have good manners.” Well, I would say this is almost always the case. But now the question is: What are these so-called good manners and what does German etiquette look like?

Almost every nation defines this a little bit different. Let’s just take some Asian countries, such as China, for example. While in most European countries, you can’t burp, smack, or slurp at the table, in most Asian cultures this is called good etiquette. This means that the food was tasty and that you’re satisfied. But when doing this at the table of a German family, this would be considered bad table etiquette; they might think your parents didn’t show you how to use a spoon at home.

But on the other hand, in Asia, you shouldn’t touch your nose at the table. Can you see anything bad about touching or scratching your nose at the table if you need to? At least in Germany, this wouldn’t be a problem.

What I want to show you is this: Other countries = Other morals and manners.

In this article, we want to show you the Do’s and Don’ts in Germany. Be aware that these German etiquette tips might apply to other German-speaking countries, such as Switzerland and Austria (but not necessarily, as their cultures differ from ours in Germany).

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in German

Table of Contents

  1. Do’s and Don’ts for Dining
  2. German Social Etiquette in Public Places
  3. German Greeting Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts for Greetings
  4. German Guest Etiquette: Manners When Visiting Another House
  5. German Travel Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts in Public Transports
  6. German Business Culture and Etiquette: How to Behave in Business
  7. How to be a Good Part of German Society
  8. How GermanPod101 Can Help You Learn More German


1. Do’s and Don’ts for Dining

As mentioned above, when it comes to etiquette at the table in general, it becomes really difficult to handle as every culture is different. Even within Europe, you’ll find differences. For example, while French people like to extend their dinners until very late, Germans just try to finish as fast as possible. I guess we just try to be more efficient. Here are some German etiquette dining do’s and don’ts.

A Romantic Dinner with a Woman and a Man Drinking Wine

1- Don’t: Eat with an open mouth or make unnatural noises.

Hygiene Words

While in other cultures, burping or smacking might be a signal that the food was good and enough, in Germany you try to eat as quietly as possible.

That doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to talk; quite the reverse, you should talk as much as you can to boost your German. But don’t open your mouth while eating, and don’t make any slurping sounds when eating soup.

We prepared a free lesson about manners in Germany. Take a look before reading the rest of this guide to German etiquette to make the most of it!

Vocabulary List

  • Schmatzen — “to smack”
  • Bitte hör auf zu schmatzen. — “Please stop smacking.”
  • Mit vollem Mund spricht man nicht. — “You don’t speak with a full mouth.”

2- Do: Say Prost and make eye contact.

Beer and alcohol have a long German tradition. You’re probably familiar with the Oktoberfest. But even outside of this famous festival, beer is highly accepted in Germany. When you’re out with your family and friends, alcohol will be a subject. We like to enjoy a nice Weizen or a cold Lager with our meal.

There can be many reasons you’re with your family or friends in a restaurant. Usually, it’s one’s birthday, you’re joining your weekly Stammtisch, celebrating the graduation of a family member or you just went with your family for a Sonntagsessen. Whatever it is, you’re there probably for a reason, and you’ll want to cheer (or toast) for the occasion. Maybe the party organizer even makes a short speech if he’s not too shy.

At a certain time during dinner, usually before the food arrives at the table, you’ll raise your glasses to cheer the occasion you’ve gathered together for. Everybody will raise their glasses and say Prost. Then you’re supposed to answer with Prost, and you’ll try to clink glasses with everybody at the table.

Important when clinking your cup with someone: MAKE EYE CONTACT.

It may sound a bit stupid, but Germans say that if you don’t look each other in the eyes when clinking glasses, you’ll have seven years of bad luck in the bedroom.

3- Don’t start eating until everybody has their food.

I know from my own experience that some cultures in South America have the attitude that when you’re making a barbecue, or even when coming together with friends and family on the weekends, there are a lot of people around you and it’s quite normal to have lunch or dinner with ten or more people.

This sometimes makes it difficult to get everybody at the table at the same time, and everybody starts eating whenever he or she wants. But be assured that this isn’t the case in Germany. When you come together, you serve everybody first, and then you start eating.

4- Do: Say Guten Appetit.

There is one similarity between French and German culture: We enjoy telling our guests that they can enjoy their meal. And we don’t just say it for fun, we really mean it. We hope that the food we prepared is tasty and will satisfy everybody.

But this isn’t just to say that you’re supposed to enjoy the food. This is also a good indicator for you, as a foreigner, to start eating. Earlier, we mentioned that you shouldn’t start until everybody has their food. When the cook, or the person who prepared your meal, says Guten Appetit, this also means that we’re ready and everybody can start eating.

There’s even a phrase that we teach our children when they’re fairly small:
Pip pip pip - Guten Appetit - “Enjoy your meal!”


2. German Social Etiquette in Public Places

Thanks

When going out in public, you should at least maintain a certain level of politeness. But no worries. With common sense, you’ll survive this.

1- Don’t: Cross the street on the red traffic light.

In many countries the traffic lights are only for orientation and the people mostly ignore them. Not in Germany. Remember that we’re talking about a country which is known for the phrase:

  • Ordnung muss sein
    “There must be order”

Germans value their laws, so being in Germany you should do it as well. Crossing the street on a red light in Germany might draw the attention of other pedestrians and it might end with getting a ticket which will cost you around 5€. For ignoring the red light while being on the bicycle, the fine can grow even up to 60 - 180€ and you can even earn some Punkte in Flensburg, which might cause losing your drivers licence for a few month.

Watch out especially when children are around. Germans are very sensitive when it comes to their children. Be a good role model and show them how to behave properly in the road traffic.

2- Don’t: Squeeze in lines facing people.

You know that feeling when you’re arriving a bit late to a movie in the cinema, or you come to the theatre and your seat is right in the middle of a row?

Well, the first hint we can give you is this: If there are other free and empty seats, it might be better to just choose one of those seats, though it’s also fine to make your way to your booked place.

Just remember to be friendly at all times. While passing other visitors, you can say:

  • Entschuldigung
    “Excuse me.”

But always remember to pass the people in the same row face to face. If you don’t do so, you might offend them. They probably won’t say something to you, but why offend someone when you can avoid it?


3. German Greeting Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts for Greetings

Bad Phrases

German etiquette and customs for greetings can be really different from what you may be used to. You may ask yourself questions, such as:

“Should I greet everybody?” “Should I give a hug or a kiss on the cheek?” “Should I shake their hand, or maybe just say hello?”

To give you more insight on the topic of German cultural etiquette for greeting people, we’ve published a video about greetings on our site.

1- Do: Say “Hello” to everybody.

When entering a party or a family meeting, you’ll usually be introduced by the owner or the host to everyone who’s already there. But if this isn’t the case, you should introduce yourself to everybody. You don’t need to tell your life story, but a nice Hallo, ich bin [add your name] is perfect. Make sure to shake their hand.

This also applies when entering a restaurant, shop, or most other places.You don’t need to greet everybody, but for example, when entering a small shop, at least say a friendly Hallo or Guten Tag, and Tschüss or Auf Wiedersehen when leaving again. If you’re more extroverted even a short small talk is fine. That’s more than enough. This especially applies when you’re entering a waiting room at the doctor’s office.

2- Don’t make the polnischer Abgang.

British people call it the “French leave”, French people call it the “filer à l’anglaise” or “to leave English style” and Germans use their eastern neighbours to name this specific style of leaving.

Polnischer Abgang means literally “Polish leave”, and it describes when you’re sneaking away from a party or some other place without saying goodbye to someone (or even everybody). This is considered rude, and you should avoid doing so. Don’t be shy, and let at least the owner know that you’re leaving.

3- Do: Use the correct form of the day.

According to proper German etiquette, there are different ways to greet people depending on the time of the day. We won’t give you an extensive guide for this, but be sure to remember this:

  • Guten Morgen — “Good morning” (used until noon)
  • Guten Tag — “Good day” (used until it’s dark)
  • Guten Abend — “Good evening” (used when it’s dark or you’re out for dinner)
  • Hallo — “Hello” (almost always used in an informal situation)
  • Tschüss — “Bye” (almost always used in an informal situation)
  • Auf Wiedersehen — “Goodbye”

For some better insight, we have a lesson in our free course about greetings.


4. German Guest Etiquette: Manners When Visiting Another House

If your lucky, on your trip to Germany, a stranger or a friend may invite you to his home. It might be for a party or just to hang out. But in either case, there are some unwritten German etiquette rules that you should follow.

1- Do: Use the formal Sie first.

In English, addressing a person is fairly easy as you just have one word for formal and informal situations: “You.”

In German, there are some differences that you should know, and even some rules. We’ll give you a quick overview.

  • The formal way to talk to someone is by using Sie.
  • The informal way is to use Du.
  • The actions are called siezen and duzen.

When to use which form can be confusing, so here are some general rules:

  1. Rule: If you’re not sure which one to use, be formal.
  2. Rule: When the person is older than you, use formal.
  3. Rule: At work, use the formal way, until the other person offers you the informal way.
  4. Rule: If you know the other person will use the informal way, also be informal.
  5. Rule: Offer du if you’re older.

If you want to extend your knowledge about formalities and etiquette in Germany, take a look at our free course.

If you want to address someone in a formal manner:

  • Herr [last name] — “Mr. [last name]”
  • Frau [last name] — “Mrs. [last name]”

If you want to offer the du, say:

  • Du kannst ‘du’ sagen. — “You can say du.”
  • Ich glaube, wir können uns duzen. — “I think we can use the informal you.”

2- Do: Make a small gift.

This is an easy one. When you come to the home of a friend or family member, just bring something small. You don’t need to invest too much time into thinking about the gift. This can be something quick and small, such as:

  • Chocolate
  • A bottle of wine
  • Some beers

3- Don’t choose the wrong topics.

Showing Two War Machines

Have you heard that there are some parts of German history that aren’t as bright as those of other nations? I’m talking about the Second World War.

Actually this is a very important topic to talk about, especially since Germany has shifted to the right in the past few years, giving opportunities for politicians who are denying German war crimes to grow in popularity. So if you’re interested in the topic, ask people about the war and discuss with them, but be aware of some things:

  • This is still a very sensitive topic for some people. Don’t be too harsh, many people have emotional connections to this time. Try to remember that there are still many people who fought in the war, lost their families due to the war and suffered from the consequences.
  • Don’t make stupid jokes about this time. Sure, they might be funny to you, but remember that there is a possibility that someone in the room lost their family members in the war.
  • Evaluate what people have told you. Germany has a growing problem with fake news and with people denying or marginalizing the crimes of the Nazi Germany. It’s always better to double-check the information.

Other than this, you should avoid the topics that generally make people uncomfortable and make things awkward, like politics, money, or religion, at least when talking to people you don’t know very well.

In general, be careful with potentially sensitive topics.


5. German Travel Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts in Public Transports

A Metro Passing by Really Fast

1- Don’t: Listen to loud music.

I know you might have a long ride on the subway from home to work, or the other way around. It’s also just fair that you listen to your music and enjoy the time that you’re there.

But it’s not necessary to share the music that you like with the rest of the train. They might like some other type of music. So just plug in your headphones and listen to the music without disturbing anyone.

Listening to your music loudly is even considered offensive to some people, and at some point someone will surely tell you to “Shut the f*** up.”

2- Do: Offer your seat.

When there are free seats and you have a long trip to your destination, feel free to sit down. But during the ride, people will enter and leave the train, and the closer you come to the center, the fuller the wagon gets.

Public transport is the easiest way in German cities to get around, so everybody uses it. Even pregnant women, older ladies and gentlemen, and disabled people.

Be polite and offer your seat to them. They’ll thank you, the people around you will see it, and it gives you a good feeling. We say in Germany:

  • Jeden Tag eine gute Tat.
    “Every day a good act.”

To offer your seat, you can say:

  • Möchten Sie sich vielleicht setzen, hier bitte.
    “Do you want to sit down here, please.”

Point to your seat while saying this.

3- Let other people leave the train first.

As in most other countries, the metro and buses are fairly full, and even more so during the rush hour. Everybody is stressed and just wants to get home to their loved ones.

Before entering the subway, make space in front of the doors so that other people can get out first. This ensures that they don’t need to squeeze past. If you’re standing in front of the door, I’m sure that someone will be impolite to you. And to be fair, with good reason.


6. German Business Culture and Etiquette: How to Behave in Business

Business

In this section, you’ll learn about some German professional etiquette rules. When it comes to German etiquette, business depends on knowing your way around it! Here are some German etiquette do’s and don’ts for doing business in Germany.

1- Do: Bring your own cake.

This mainly applies to business culture as opposed to private birthday parties. But when it’s your birthday and you’re working in an office, then colleagues expect you to bring something to the office to share with everybody.

From experience, this doesn’t have to be a cake; a small breakfast or something for lunch is good as well. The idea of giving something to them is more important than what you give.

2- Don’t: Be late.

Don’t be late, but neither be early. It can be quite difficult for some people to be exactly on time.

Trains, buses, or anything else regarding public transport, won’t wait for your arrival. They’ll leave without you. This can also be the case with friends. You agreed on a certain hour to meet, so you’re expected to be there at that time.

When it comes to punctuality, Germans don’t mess around. Of course, no one will kill you because you’re five minutes late. But it’s better to be five minutes early, than to be five minutes late.

If you’re too late, you can lose your hour at the doctor, miss meetings at work, and miss out on other important times and events.

3- Do: Shake hands, but don’t overdo it.

While in other countries, such as France or most parts of South America, a hug or a kiss on the cheek are common, even in daily business culture. In Germany, however, you shake hands with both genders.

In more relaxed situations, you can give hugs and people won’t refuse them. But in business, a handshake is more acceptable.

Don’t get too touchy. Once a person has accepted your handshake, that’s enough. You don’t need to touch their shoulders or grab their waist, or anywhere else. Give them their personal space.

Take a look at our website to learn some helpful business German.


7. How to be a Good Part of German Society

1- Do: Recycle your garbage.

A Girl in a Green Shirt with the Recycle Sign in Front of a tree

The “green” movement has already taken place in Germany, and we’re trying our best in everyday life to not stress the environment more than necessary.

For this, we have a recycling system. For glass, for example, we divide them into brown, green, and white glass; there will be extra recycling containers for each sort.

Also, you should separate your waste between plastic, paper, and natural garbage.

In addition to this, we have a recycling system for plastic bottles. That means that when buying a plastic bottle, you have to pay a certain amount extra. After you bring the bottle back to a machine in the supermarket, you’ll get back the extra amount you paid. This system is called Pfand. Believe it or not, foreigners love this.

2- Don’t: Open closed doors unasked.

Sometimes Germans just need time for themselves and don’t need to be out in public. For this, we have a common practice of keeping the door to our room shut when we don’t want anyone to come in.

At the same time, this means that if your door is open, a person can enter the room almost unasked.

This applies to almost every situation: at home when sharing your flat, or in the office.


8. How GermanPod101 Can Help You Learn More German

In summary, we’ve introduced you to important German etiquette regarding: public transport, greetings, visiting public places, being in friends’ homes, and the business culture in Germany. Apply our do’s and avoid the don’ts, and you’ll be more than fine visiting all parts of Germany.

Are there similar etiquette rules or cultural customs in your own country? Let us know in the comments!

If you’re interested in boosting your German skills faster, we recommend you our private teacher program. It focuses on your personal goals and your current German level, to help you improve at your own pace and toward your own goals.

We won’t just release you without making you even happier. So we’ve prepared some free-of-charge lessons on GermanPod101.com. There are classes for:

Make sure you get a spot today and boost your German to the sky. But don’t forget German etiquette on your way to the top.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in German

Days of the Week in German and More - Guide 2019

Thumbnail

Have you ever heard about the German bureaucracy? Well, if you haven’t heard about it yet, we can tell you that Germany is a true king when it comes to bureaucracy. This includes filling out forms, and what else?

You will have to confirm a lot of deadlines!

This is one of the reasons you should learn the days of the week in German, and have a good grasp of the calendar dates in German. You’ll get instructions either from a German office authority or when you receive letters. But in every case, there will be some kind of instructions on a deadline that you need to fulfill. From sending information back to bringing documents to German officials, you’ll be given plenty of dates both verbally or in writing.

To make sure that you understand everything correctly and that you’re meeting all the deadlines, we’ll give you, here and now, a guide to master the dates in the German language. We’ll give you detailed information on everything from how to write dates in German to understanding dates in German letters.

There are some special cases, but no worries, we’ll go over everything in detail so that you’ll be a professional by the end of this article.

Because let’s not forget all of the other times when knowing the date in German is important:

  • Being on time for meetings
  • Birthdays
  • Special holidays
  • Just about everything else

Table of Contents

  1. Dates in German Format: Writing & Reading German Dates
  2. How to Say the Years
  3. How to Say the Months in German
  4. How to Say the Days
  5. How to Say the Days of the Week
  6. Time Units
  7. Questions and Answers about Dates
  8. German Cultural Insights and Special Days
  9. How GermanPod101 Can Help You Overcome Bureaucracy Problems in Germany

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Time Phrases in German


1. Dates in German Format: Writing & Reading German Dates

Writing and reading the date can greatly vary from language to language. But even within a single language, we can see some slight differences in format. Let’s get right to it.

1- Writing Dates in German

So, how are dates written in German? There are two formats for writing the date in German:

  1. Long version:
    Der 1. Februar 2019 (the 1st of February, 2019)
  2. Short version:
    Der 01.08.2019 (01/08/2019)

The main difference when writing the date in German is that you use dots between day, month, and year instead of a slash. Also note that in German, we use the format day/month/year, which may confuse native U.S. English speakers. And you may have noticed already, but in German, we write the month in capital letters.

2- Reading Dates in German

Just like the written format, there’s some difference when it comes to reading a date in German. There are three different forms. We’ll use this date as an example of how to read dates in German:

01.10.2019

Der 01.10.2019      Am 01.10.2019      Der 1. Oktober 2019
Der erste zehnte zweitausendneunzehn      Am ersten zehnten zweitausendneunzehn      Der erste Oktober 2019
In this case, we’re using the nominative.      In this case, we’re using the dative.      In this case, we’re using the nominative, but with the written month instead.
Example:
Heute ist der 01.10.2019.
(Today is the 01/10/2019.)
     Example:
Wir sehen uns am 01.10.2019.
(We’ll see each other on the 01/10/2019.)
     Example:
Morgen ist der 1. Oktober 2019.
(Today is the first of October 2019.)

There are even some differences in reading the year, but we’ll come to this soon.


2. How to Say the Years

When expressing dates in German, knowing how to talk about the years is essential. The year formats in German and English are very similar, but like with everything, there’s one exception.

Basically, we differentiate between the years that have passed before the year 2000, and after.

  • If the year you want to talk about is after the year 2000, you have to read it like an actual number:

              2019 is read like zweitausendneunzehn.

  • If the year you want to talk about is before the year 2000, you have to read it like a year in English:

              1901 is read like neunzehnhunderteins.

  •           Translated, this would be read nineteen-hundred and one.

If you need help with pronouncing the words, we suggest you use the voice feature of GermanPod101’s dictionary.


3. How to Say the Months in German

Months

When you learn about saying dates in German, you can’t forget the months. Luckily for you, the months in German are pretty basic and are similar to the English months. All the months are masculine, so you don’t need to worry about which gender to use.

One small exception Germans use is for the month of July. Generally, we say Juli, but some people use Julei instead. This is because Juli and Juni sound really similar and can generate confusion.

A Calendar Where the Sheets Are Changing Fast.

German           English
Januar           January
Februar           February
März           March
April           April
Mai           May
Juni           June
Juli           July
August           August
September           September
Oktober           October
November           November
Dezember           December

We’ve prepared for you a special lesson about the months where you can also listen and work on your pronunciation.


4. How to Say the Days

In German, the days have some special rules when using ordinal numbers. Here’s an overview of how to build them. We also gave you some more examples, as these aren’t only the rules for the days, but also for everything else that comes in a series.

  • While the ordinal numbers in English usually end with “-th,” the German ones mostly end on -te or -ste.
  • The first three numbers are irregular; you just have to memorize them.
  • The numbers from four to nineteen are regular; they always end on -te.
  • The numbers above nineteen are also regular; they always end on -ste.

10 + 2 = 12

German           English
1. Der erste           The first
2. Der zweite           The second
3. Der dritte           The third
4. Der vierte           The fourth
5. Der fünfte           The fifth
10. Der zehnte           The tenth
11. Der Elfte           The eleventh
20. Der Zwanzigste           The twentieth
31. Der Einunddreißigste           The thirty-first

In our free online course, you can check out our free Numbers vocabulary list. This will help you with pronunciation and will provide you with more helpful insight.


5. How to Say the Days of the Week

Weekdays

If you already know the days of the week in English, the days in German shouldn’t be that much of a problem; most days sound fairly similar to their English equivalent. Apart from Wednesday, all days end with the German word for “day” (Tag), and to make it even easier for you, all German days are masculine.

In our overview, you can see the “days of the week” (die Tage der Woche).

German           English
Montag           Monday
Dienstag           Tuesday
Mittwoch           Wednesday
Donnerstag           Thursday
Freitag           Friday
Samstag
Sonnabend
          Saturday
Sonntag           Sunday

You’re asking why we have two terms for Saturday? Well, in most parts of Germany, you’ll use Samstag. But in Austria and the German part of Switzerland, as well as some select cities in Germany, they use Sonnabend (or “Sunday eve” in English). But don’t worry about that, because everybody will understand both terms, so just choose the one you feel more comfortable with.

In our special vocabulary list about the days of the week in German, you can learn everything about speaking and pronouncing the things you learned in this chapter.


6. Time Units

Numbers

Now that you have a better idea of how to say dates in German, you may find it useful to have some relative time unit vocabulary under your belt.

German           English
Die Sekunde           second
Die Minute           minute
Die Stunde           hour
Der Tag           day
Die Woche           week
Der Monat           month
Das Quartal           quarter
Das Halbjahr           semester
Das Semester           semester
Das Jahr           year
Das Jahrzehnt           decade
Das Jahrhundert           century
German           English
Die MorgendämmerungDas
Morgengrauen
Dämmerung
          Dawn / Daybreak
Der Morgen           Morning
Der Vormittag           Late morning
Der Mittag           Noon
Der Nachmittag           Afternoon
Der Abend           Evening
Die Nacht           Night


7. Questions and Answers about Dates

We want to prepare you as best as possible for talking about dates in German. This requires that you really understand expressing dates in German, both in writing and verbally.

So we want to help you with some typical questions that you may be asked during your time in Germany. And of course, we’ll give you the perfect answers for each one.

A Woman with a Question Mark Over Her Head and a Man with Letters Coming Out of Mouth.

Question Answer
Wann ist dein Geburtstag?
“When is your birthday?”
Mein Geburtstag ist am 03.10.1993.
“My birthday is on the 03/10/1993.”
Wann wollen wir uns treffen?
“When do we want to meet each other?”

Lass uns am ersten April treffen. Das ist in zwei Wochen.
“Let’s meet on the first of April. That is in two weeks.”
Welchen Tag haben wir heute?
“Which day do we have?”

*This is the same as asking “What is today?”

Wir haben heute den vierten März.
“Today, we have the 4th of March.”

*This is the same as saying “Today is the 4th of March.”

Wann ist Einstein gestorben?
“When did Einstein die?”
Einstein ist am 18. April 1955 gestorben.
“Einstein died on the 18th of April in 1955.”


8. German Cultural Insights and Special Days

This chapter will help you practice everything you learned in this lecture, while giving you some insight into German culture at the same time. There are a few days in the German calendar that you should keep in mind when living there.

Christi Himmelfahrt Ascension of Christ Christi Himmelfahrt ist immer an einem Donnerstag.
The Ascension of Christ is always on a Thursday.”
Pfingstmontag Whit Monday An einem Montag im Mai ist Pfingstmontag.
“Whit Monday is on a Monday in May.”
Tag der deutschen Einheit Day of German Unity Am dritten Oktober ist der Tag der deutschen Einheit.
“On the third of October is the Day of German Unity.”
Neujahr New Year Der erste Tag im Jahr, der 01.01.2019 ist Neujahr.
“The first day of the year, the 01/01/2019, is New Year.”
Weihnachtstag Christmas Day Der erste und der zweite Tag nach Heiligabend sind Feiertage.
“The first and the second day after Christmas Eve are holidays.”
Valentinstag Valentines Day Der vierzehnte Februar ist der Tag der Verliebten.
“The 14th of February is the day of people in love.”
Oktoberfest Oktoberfest Das Oktoberfest findet zwei Wochen im September und Oktober statt.
The Oktoberfest is celebrated for two weeks during September and October.”
Festivals Festivals Der Sommer ist die Jahreszeit für Festivals in Deutschland.
“The summer is the season for festivals in Germany.”
Fasching Carnival Fasching ist wie eine fünfte Jahreszeit für viele Deutsche. Er beginnt am 11.11. Um 11 Uhr.
“Carnival is like a fifth season for some Germans. It begins on the 11/11 at 11 o’clock.”


9. How GermanPod101 Can Help You Overcome Bureaucracy Problems in Germany

Well, congratulations for making it through our intense, but surely helpful, lesson about dates, days, and times of day in the German language. We hope that you now have a much better understanding of how dates in German grammar work, how to give dates in German, and perhaps most importantly, how to format them.

We know that this isn’t an easy topic, and that this requires some time to understand completely. But once you see all the similarities and differences between English and German dates, you’ll be an expert in this subject in no time.

To practice telling dates in German, why not drop us a comment with today’s day in German? ;)
If you want to really boost your German skills, we suggest that you try out our private teacher program which focuses on your goals and your current level.

But we won’t leave you without making a quick gift to you. We have free courses and lessons on GermanPod101.com that can help German learners at every level and stage of their learning journey:

Save yourself a spot today!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Time Phrases in German

Guide to German Travel Phrases for Tourists and Travelers

Thumbnail

When you’re traveling outside of your home country, there’s a very good chance that you won’t speak the language of that country. For that reason, it can be really helpful to learn some basic German travel phrases before going to Germany, Austria, or even parts of Switzerland, Belgium, and Luxemburg.

In this article, we’ll provide you with German phrases for tourists that will help you survive basic daily situations.

For instance, when traveling to the center of Europe, you’ll probably have to take a train at some point. (And if you don’t have to take one, we suggest you take one anyway. This experience is part of traveling to Germany.)

Once you’ve bought your ticket at Deutsche Bahn (the German railway company) and you’re ready to discover a new city, the conductor may want to see your ticket or ask some questions. If you didn’t know, even though this is an international company, their staff isn’t one-hundred percent trained to speak English. Trust us, you don’t want to come into this situation unprepared. You’ll need to know phrases for travelers in German.

But no worries. To prevent you from this embarrassing situation, we have free courses for beginner, intermediate, and advanced students. You can even find free bonus material on our website.

Without a lot of hustle and bustle, let’s just get straight to it. Here are the most useful German phrases for travelers.

Table of Contents

  1. Why Should You Learn German?
  2. German Pronunciation Specialities
  3. Greetings
  4. Basic Questions and Their Perfect Answers
  5. Restaurants and Ordering Food
  6. At the Hotel
  7. Locations and Transportation
  8. Working Through Communication Barriers
  9. How GermanPod101 Can Help You Master Urgent Travel Situations

Log


1. Why Should You Learn German?

Preparing to Travel

We know that learning another language can be frustrating and hard, and this may be more true of German than some other languages. But here are some facts that should convince you to learn German:

  • Studying in Germany is free - While you have to pay for a college education in most countries, studying in Germany is free of charge.
  • Germany is Export King - Germany is the country with the biggest export market in Europe, and the third biggest worldwide.
  • Easy for native English speakers - English and German belong to the same language family, which makes it easy to learn (and vice versa).
  • Startup hotspot - The startup scene is growing rapidly in the cities of Berlin, Munich, Cologne, and Hamburg.

Knowing even just the basic German travel phrases for beginners can greatly help you make the most of your time in Germany.


2. German Pronunciation Specialities

Airplane Phrases

Before we move on to learning German phrases for travelers, you should have a little information on German pronunciation specialties.

As already mentioned, German is really close to the English language, which makes it easy for good English speakers to adapt to German. But there are some combinations that require special effort in terms of pronunciation. On the left, you see the letter combination; on the right, an English equivalent to that sound.

ei line
ie lean
ö Worm without the ‘r’
ü Tea with rounded lips
ä get
eu / äu boy
sch shoe
sp shp
st sht
ß boss
z cats


3. Greetings

Survival Phrases

Now, onto the most basic German words and phrases for travellers: Greetings. These are the most common German travel phrases, and always important to have at the ready.

  • Hallo!
    Hello!
  • Guten Morgen!
    Good morning!
  • Guten Tag!
    Good day!
  • Guten Abend.
    Good evening!
  • Bitte.
    Please.
  • Danke.
    Thanks. / Thank you.
  • Tschüss.
    Bye.
  • Auf Wiedersehen.
    Goodbye.
  • Ich heiße …
    My name is …
  • Ich bin in Deutschland für … Wochen.
    I am in Germany for … weeks.
  • Ich komme aus …
    I am from …
  • Wie geht’s?
    How are you?
  • Mir geht es gut.
    I am fine.


4. Basic Questions and Their Perfect Answers

Basic Questions

To help you out with the pronunciation and some practice for these questions, you can find a free lesson on our website. Also feel free to click on the links in the chart; they’ll take you to relevant German vocabulary lists on our site to help you answer the questions yourself!

Question Answer
Wo ist die Toilette
Where is the bathroom?
Die Toilette ist neben der Küche.
The toilet is next to the kitchen.
Wo kommst du her?
Where are you from?
Ich komme aus London, England.
I am from London, England.
Wie geht es dir?
How are you?
Mir geht’s gut und dir?
I am fine and you?
Wie alt bist du?
How old are you?
Ich bin 25 Jahre alt.
I am 25 years old.
Wie ist dein Name?
What’s your name?
Mein Name ist … . Wie ist dein Name?
My name is … and yours?
Wie lautet deine Telefonnumer?
What’s your phone number?
Meine Telefonnumer lautet: 555-555-555.
My phone number is: 555-555-555.
Was hast du gesagt?
What did you just say?
Ich habe dich nicht verstanden.
I didn’t understand you.
Wo arbeitest du?
Where do you work?
Ich arbeite bei … .
I work at …
Was ist das?
What is this?
Das ist ein … .
That is a … .
Was ist dein Lieblingsessen?
What is your favorite food?
Ich esse am liebsten Pizza.
My favorite food is pizza.


5. Restaurants and Ordering Food

A Cook Seasoning a Plate with Food.

  • Einen Tisch für zwei/drei/vier Personen, bitte.
    A table for two/three/four persons, please.
  • Wir haben eine Reservierung.
    We have a reservation.
  • Die Speisekarte, bitte.
    The menu, please.
  • Ich hätte gerne das Steak mit Pommes.
    I would like the steak with fries.
  • Haben Sie ein veganes Gericht?
    Do you have a vegan meal?
  • Können Sie etwas empfehlen?
    Can you recommend something?
  • Noch ein Glas Wasser, bitte.
    Another glass of water, please.
  • Getrennt oder zusammen?
    Together or separately?
  • Guten Appetit.
    Enjoy your meal.
  • Die Rechnung, bitte.
    The check, please.

We have a complete vocabulary list for you, with words for the restaurant.


6. At the Hotel

A Couple at the Front Desk of the Reception.

  • Wir haben eine Reservierung.
    We have a reservation.
  • Haben Sie noch freie Zimmer?
    Do you have free rooms available?
  • Wie viel kostet ein Zimmer pro Nacht?
    How much is a room per night?
  • Ich möchte ein Zimmer reservieren.
    I would like to reserve a room.
  • Ist das Frühstück inklusive?
    Is the breakfast inclusive?
  • Zimmerservice.
    Room service.
  • Um wie viel Uhr ist Check-Out?
    At what time is the check out?


7. Locations and Transportation

World Map

1- Asking for and Giving Directions

Entschuldigung, wo ist die Bank / der Supermarkt / das Stadtzentrum / die Tankstelle / der Bahnhof / der Flughafen?
Excuse me, where is the bank / the supermarket / the city center / the gas station / the train station / the airport?
Norden / Süden / Westen / Osten
North / South / West / East
In welcher Richtung finde ich … ?
In which direction can I find … ?
Oben / Unten / Vorne / Hinten
Upstairs / Downstairs / Forward / Backward
Ist es noch weit von hier?
Is it still far from here?
Sie müssen geradeaus laufen.
You have to walk straight.
Kann ich dorthin zu Fuß laufen?
Can I get there on foot?
Sie müssen links / rechts abbiegen.
You have to turn left / right.
Welche Straßenbahn, Metro oder Bus muss ich nehmen?
Which underground or bus do I have to take?
Zum Flughafen / Bahnhof, bitte.
To the airport / train station, please.
Ist es in der Nähe von … ?
Is it close to … ?
Um die Ecke.
Around the corner.
Wo ist der Ausgang / Eingang?
Where is the exit / entrance?
Halten Sie hier an, bitte.
Stop here, please.

2- Transportation

  • Wo ist die Haltestelle?
    Where is the station?
  • Wo kann ich eine Fahrkarte kaufen?
    Where can I buy a ticket?
  • Fährt dieser Zug / Bus nach … ?
    Is this train / bus going to … ?
  • Können Sie es mir auf der Karte zeigen?
    Can you show me on the map?
  • Muss ich umsteigen?
    Do I have to change?

Again, we’ve prepared for you a free vocabulary list with words that you can use when asking for directions and locations.


8. Working Through Communication Barriers

Just in case you don’t know what to say or you didn’t understand anything someone just said to you, here are some phrases that can get you out of this sticky situation:

  • Sprechen Sie Englisch?
    Do you speak English?
  • Können Sie das bitte nochmal wiederholen?
    Could you please repeat that again?
  • Ich spreche kein Deutsch.
    I don’t speak German.
  • Ich verstehe Sie nicht.
    I don’t understand you.
  • Können Sie das bitte übersetzen?
    Could you please translate this for me?
  • Hilfe!
    Help!

Maybe you’re asking yourself if you can go to Germany without speaking any German. Sure you can, you can live there even without speaking the language.

Getting along as a tourist with just English will be more than easy for you. Everybody knows at least the basics of English. And as long as they can see that you’re patient, they’ll be patient with you.


9. How GermanPod101 Can Help You Master Urgent Travel Situations

In this article, we showed you the most helpful phrases that you can use on your travels. We covered some basic pronunciation specialities of the German language, greetings, numbers, situations in a restaurant and hotel, and asking for directions.

While you can survive traveling Germany with only English, Germans will be really grateful when they see that you’re trying to speak their language. We know that German is a hard language, but to see someone trying makes us happy.

This article was just the beginning; take a look at our free resources. But if you really want to get to it and become a good German speaker, then we can offer you a private teacher to help you learn based on your needs and goals with the German language.

Before you go, let us know in the comments how you feel about using the useful German travel phrases outlined in this article. Feel free to reach out with questions in the comments below, and know that the more you practice and use these essential German travel phrases, the easier it will become.

Log

How to Say Happy New Year in German & New Year Wishes

Learn all the German New Year wishes online, in your own time, on any device! Join GermanPod101 for a special German New Year celebration!

How to Say Happy New Year in German

Can you relate to the year passing something like this: “January, February, March - December!”? Many people do! Quantum physics teaches us that time is relative, and few experiences illustrate this principle as perfectly as when we reach the end of a year. To most of us, it feels like the old one has passed in the blink of an eye, while the new year lies ahead like a very long journey! However, New Year is also a time to celebrate beginnings, and to say goodbye to what has passed. This is true in every culture, no matter when New Year is celebrated.

So, how do you say Happy New Year in German? Let a native teach you! At GermanPod101, you will learn how to correctly greet your friends over New Year, and wish them well with these German New Year wishes!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - How to Master A Language!

Table of Contents

  1. How to Celebrate New Year in Germany
  2. Must-Know German Words & Phrases for the New Year!
  3. Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions in German
  4. Inspirational New Year Quotes
  5. Inspirational Language Learning Quotes
  6. How To Say Happy New Year in 31 Languages
  7. How GermanPod101 Can Help You Learn German

But let’s start with some vocabulary for German New Year celebrations, very handy for conversations.

1. How to Celebrate New Year in Germany

Silvester is the German word for the last day of the year, in other words, December 31. The name “Silvester” dates back to Pope Silvester I, who died in Rome on the last day of the year – the 355th day.

What purpose did fireworks in Germany serve originally?

If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later, so keep reading!

On December 31, shops are open till 2 pm. Those with jobs need to work, while others finish their shopping before noon for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, known as Neujahr, for the following celebrations. Some pass the time with parlor games and in the evening, they eat raclette or fondue together.

In the last days of the year, people wish each other a “good start for the New Year” which is known as Guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr, and literally translates to “a good Head-Start into the new year.” At big public places such as the Brandenburg Gate or Brandenburger Tor in Berlin, many people celebrate the change of the year together. Church bells ring on New Year at midnight, and many people watch New Years Eve fireworks, which are called Neujahrsfeuerwerk. Others set off fireworks themselves, including rockets or firecrackers, or welcome the New Year with sparklers.

At midnight, most people clink glasses filled with champagne and wish each other a “Happy New Year” or Frohes neues Jahr in German. Some dress up and go to a New Year’s party and celebrate in high spirits until the early morning. Others celebrate quietly at home or watch the British comedy sketch Dinner for One on television, which has traditionally been broadcast since 1963.

On Silvester afternoon, people entertain themselves with the old fortune-telling custom of lead-pouring; to get one’s horoscope for the new year, lead is melted with a candle and poured into cold water. The lead hardens into a shape that is interpreted to have a certain meaning.

Now it’s time to answer our quiz question-

What purpose did fireworks in Germany serve originally?

The old Germans, who lived in the fourth and sixth century BC, expelled evil spirits with fire and noise. This tradition is a forerunner to today’s Silvester fireworks displays.

Happy New Year!
Frohes Neues Jahr!

2. Must-Know German Words & Phrases for the New Year!

German Words & Phrases for the New Year

1- Year

Jahr

This is pretty self-explanatory. Most countries follow a Gregorian calendar, which has approximately 365 days in a year, while in some cultures, other year designations are also honored. Therefore, New Year’s day in Germany could fall on a different day than in your country. When do you celebrate New Year?

2- Midnight

Mitternacht

The point in time when a day ends and a new one starts. Many New Year celebrants prefer to stay awake till midnight, and greet the new annum as it breaks with fanfare and fireworks!

3- New Year’s Day

Neujahr

In most countries, the new year is celebrated for one whole day. On the Gregorian calendar, this falls on January 1st. On this day, different cultures engage in festive activities, like parties, parades, big meals with families and many more.

You can do it!

4- Party

Party

A party is most people’s favorite way to end the old year, and charge festively into the new one! We celebrate all we accomplished in the old year, and joyfully anticipate what lies ahead.

5- Dancing

Tanzen

Usually, when the clock strikes midnight and the New Year officially begins, people break out in dance! It is a jolly way to express a celebratory mood with good expectations for the year ahead. Also, perhaps, that the old year with its problems has finally passed! Dance parties are also a popular way to spend New Year’s Eve in many places.

6- Champagne

Champagner

Originating in France, champagne is a bubbly, alcoholic drink that is often used to toast something or someone during celebrations.

7- Fireworks

Feuerwerk

These are explosives that cause spectacular effects when ignited. They are popular for announcing the start of the new year with loud noises and colorful displays! In some countries, fireworks are set off to scare away evil spirits. In others, the use of fireworks is forbidden in urban areas due to their harmful effect on pets. Most animals’ hearing is much more sensitive than humans’, so this noisy display can be very frightful and traumatising to them.

8- Countdown

Countdown

This countdown refers to New Year celebrants counting the seconds, usually backward, till midnight, when New Year starts - a great group activity that doesn’t scare animals, and involves a lot of joyful shouting when the clock strikes midnight!

9- New Year’s Holiday

Silvester-Urlaub

In many countries, New Year’s Day is a public holiday - to recuperate from the party the previous night, perhaps! Families also like to meet on this day to enjoy a meal and spend time together.

10- Confetti

Konfetti

In most Western countries, confetti is traditionally associated with weddings, but often it is used as a party decoration. Some prefer to throw it in the air at the strike of midnight on New Year’s Eve.

11- New Year’s Eve

Silvester

This is the evening before New Year breaks at midnight! Often, friends and family meet for a party or meal the evening before, sometimes engaging in year-end rituals. How are you planning to give your New Year greetings in 2018?

12- Toast

Trinkspruch

A toast is a type of group-salutation that involves raising your glass to drink with others in honor of something or someone. A toast to the new year is definitely in order!

13- Resolution

Vorsatz

Those goals or intentions you hope to, but seldom keep in the new year! Many people consider the start of a new year to be the opportune time for making changes or plans. Resolutions are those intentions to change, or the plans. It’s best to keep your resolutions realistic so as not to disappoint yourself!

14- Parade

Parade

New Year celebrations are a huge deal in some countries! Parades are held in the streets, often to celebratory music, with colorful costumes and lots of dancing. Parades are like marches, only less formal and way more fun. At GermanPod101, you can engage in forums with natives who can tell you what German New Year celebrations are like!

3. Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions List

So, you learned the German word for ‘resolution’. Fabulous! Resolutions are those goals and intentions that we hope to manifest in the year that lies ahead. The beginning of a new year serves as a good marker in time to formalise these. Some like to do it in writing, others only hold these resolutions in their hearts. Here are our Top 10 New Year’s resolutions at GermanPod101 - what are yours?

Learn these phrases and impress your German friends with your vocabulary.

New Year's Resolutions

1- Read more

Mehr lesen.

Reading is a fantastic skill that everyone can benefit from. You’re a business person? Apparently, successful business men and women read up to 60 books a year. This probably excludes fiction, so better scan your library or Amazon for the top business reads if you plan to follow in the footsteps of the successful! Otherwise, why not make it your resolution to read more German in the new year? You will be surprised by how much this will improve your German language skills!

2- Spend more time with family

Mehr Zeit mit der Familie verbringen.

Former US President George Bush’s wife, Barbara Bush, was quoted as having said this: “At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, a parent.” This is very true! Relationships are often what gives life meaning, so this is a worthy resolution for any year.

3- Lose weight

Abnehmen.

Hands up, how many of you made this new year’s resolution last year too…?! This is a notoriously difficult goal to keep, as it takes a lot of self discipline not to eat unhealthily. Good luck with this one, and avoid unhealthy fad diets!

4- Save money

Geld sparen.

Another common and difficult resolution! However, no one has ever been sorry when they saved towards reaching a goal. Make it your resolution to save money to upgrade your subscription to GermanPod101’s Premium PLUS option in the new year - it will be money well spent!

5- Quit smoking

Mit dem Rauchen aufhören.

This is a resolution that you should definitely keep, or your body could punish you severely later! Smoking is a harmful habit with many hazardous effects on your health. Do everything in your power to make this resolution come true in the new year, as your health is your most precious asset.

6- Learn something new

Etwas Neues lernen.

Science has proven that learning new skills can help keep brain diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s at bay! It can even slow down the progression of the disease. So, keep your brain healthy by learning to speak a new language, studying towards a qualification, learning how to sew, or how to play chess - no matter how old you are, the possibilities are infinite!

7- Drink less

Weniger trinken.

This is another health resolution that is good to heed any time of the year. Excessive drinking is associated with many diseases, and its effect can be very detrimental to good relationships too. Alcohol is a poison and harmful for the body in large quantities!

8- Exercise regularly

Regelmäßig Sport treiben.

This resolution goes hand-in-hand with ‘Lose weight’! An inactive body is an unhealthy and often overweight one, so give this resolution priority in the new year.

9- Eat healthy

Mich gesund ernähren.

If you stick with this resolution, you will lose weight and feel better in general. It is a very worthy goal to have!

10- Study German with GermanPod101

Deutsch lernen mit GermanPod101.com

Of course! You can only benefit from learning German, especially with us! Learning how to speak German can keep your brain healthy, it can widen your circle of friends, and improve your chances to land a dream job anywhere in the world. GermanPod101 makes it easy and enjoyable for you to stick to this resolution.

4. Inspirational New Year Quotes

Inspirational Quotes

Everyone knows that it is sometimes very hard to stick to resolutions, and not only over New Year. The reasons for this vary from person to person, but all of us need inspiration every now and then! A good way to remain motivated is to keep inspirational quotes near as reminders that it’s up to us to reach our goals.

Click here for quotes that will also work well in a card for a special German new year greeting!

Make decorative notes of these in German, and keep them close! Perhaps you could stick them above your bathroom mirror, or on your study’s wall. This way you not only get to read German incidentally, but also remain inspired to reach your goals! Imagine feeling like giving up on a goal, but reading this quote when you go to the bathroom: “It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.” What a positive affirmation!

5. Inspirational Language Learning Quotes

Language Learning Quotes

Still undecided whether you should enroll with GermanPod101 to learn a new language? There’s no time like the present to decide! Let the following Language Learning Quotes inspire you with their wisdom.

Click here to read the most inspirational Language Learning Quotes!

As legendary President Nelson Mandela once said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” So, learning how to say Happy New Year in German could well be a way into someone special’s heart for you! Let this year be the one where you to learn how to say Happy New Year, and much more, in German - it could open many and unexpected doors for you.

6. How To Say Happy New Year in 31 Languages

Here’s a lovely bonus for you! Why stop with German - learn how to say Happy New Year in 31 other languages too! Watch this video and learn how to pronounce these New Year’s wishes like a native in under two minutes.

7. Why Enrolling with GermanPod101 Would Be the Perfect New Year’s Gift to Yourself!

If you are unsure how to celebrate the New Year, why not give yourself a huge gift, and enroll to learn German! With more than 12 years of experience behind us, we know that GermanPod101 would be the perfect fit for you. There are so many reasons for this!

Learning Paths

  • Custom-tailored Learning Paths: Start learning German at the level that you are. We have numerous Learning Pathways, and we tailor them just for you based on your goals and interests! What a boon!
  • Marked Progress and Fresh Learning Material Every Week: We make new lessons available every week, with an option to track your progress. Topics are culturally appropriate and useful, such as “Learning how to deliver negative answers politely to a business partner.” Our aim is to equip you with German that makes sense!
  • Multiple Learning Tools: Learn in fun, easy ways with resources such 1,000+ video and audio lessons, flashcards, detailed PDF downloads, and mobile apps suitable for multiple devices!
  • Fast Track Learning Option: If you’re serious about fast-tracking your learning, Premium Plus would be the perfect way to go! Enjoy perks such as personalised lessons with ongoing guidance from your own, native-speaking teacher, and one-on-one learning on your mobile app! You will not be alone in your learning. Weekly assignments with non-stop feedback, answers and corrections will ensure speedy progress.
  • Fun and Easy: Keeping the lessons fun and easy-to-learn is our aim, so you will stay motivated by your progress!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - How to Master A Language!

There’s no reason not to go big in 2018 by learning German with GermanPod101. Just imagine how the world can open up for you!

How to Say ‘Merry Christmas’ in German

How to Say Merry Christmas in German

Do you know any ways to wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas’ in German? GermanPod101 brings you easy-to-learn translations and the correct pronunciation of German Christmas phrases!

Christmas is the annual commemorative festival of Christ’s birth in the Western Christian Church. It takes place on December 25th and is usually celebrated with much food and fanfare! However, not all cultures celebrate Christmas. In some countries, Christmas is not even a public holiday! However, many countries have adapted Christmas and its religious meaning to tally with their own beliefs, or simply in acknowledgment of the festival’s importance to other cultures. If you want to impress native German speakers with culturally-appropriate Christmas phrases and vocabulary, GermanPod101 will teach you the most important ways to wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas’ in German!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - How to Start Learning A Language!

Table of Contents

  1. How to Celebrate Christmas in Germany
  2. Holiday Greetings and Wishes
  3. Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary
  4. Twelve Days of Christmas
  5. Top 10 Christmas Characters
  6. How GermanPod101 Can Help You

1. How to Celebrate Christmas in Germany

Christmas Words in German

Let’s talk about how Christmas Eve, or in German Heiligabend, is celebrated in Germany. This day commemorates the birth of Christ, known as Geburt Jesu Christi, and is always celebrated on December 24. This festival is one of the most important events in the Christian church.

Before we get into more detail, I’ve got a question for you-

What is it that most German children have to do before they get their Christmas gifts?

If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later, so keep reading!

On Christmas Eve in Germany, shops remain open until around 2pm, and some people use this time for their last-minute Christmas shopping. Since this is not a holiday, employed people need to go to work if they have not taken paid vacation. The time until the distribution of presents serves as preparation time. Who do you think brings the presents? In Germany, it is either Christ Child, in German called Christkind, or Santa Claus, called Weihnachtsmann. Who it is varies from region to region.

December 24 is usually celebrated within the family circle. The proceedings start when the Christmas tree, or in German Weihnachtsbaum, is decorated, the candles are lit, and the gifts are unwrapped. Children wait with longing for this moment and look forward to the gift-giving. At Christmas Eve, some families prefer to have simple meals such as potato salad with sausages, while others prefer more lavish dishes such as goose or duck, well-known as Weihnachtsgans or Weihnachtsente.

Every year the Federal President of Germany provides an official Christmas message, which is televised. Many people attend a church service, which typically takes place at a Christmas mass called Weihnachtsgottesdienst held in the afternoon or with a nativity play in the evening, or at night. A festively decorated Christmas tree and lots of candles brightly illuminate the church, and many well-known carols are sung during the church service, for example: Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her, which means “From Heaven, I come here,” O Tannenbaum meaning “O Christmas tree,” Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht which is “Silent Night, Holy Night” and O du fröhliche meaning “O Holy Night.”

In some families, the time for giving gifts is announced by ringing a small bell, causing many children to wait anxiously for this sound on Christmas Eve.

Now it’s time to answer our quiz question-

What is it that most German children have to do before they get their gifts?

In many families it is common that children first have to recite a poem, sing a song, or play something on an instrument to Santa Claus or the Christ Child—only then are they allowed to unwrap their presents.

2. Holiday Greetings and Wishes for the Holiday Season

Holiday Greetings and Wishes

1- Merry Christmas!

Frohe Weihnachten!

Do you know how to say ‘Merry Christmas’ in German? Learn here how to pronounce it perfectly! ‘Merry’ means to be joyful, to celebrate and generally be in good spirits. So, with this phrase you are wishing someone a joyful, celebratory remembrance of Christ’s birth!

2- Happy Kwanzaa!

Glücklicher Kwanzaa!

Surprise your African-American, or West African native friends with this phrase over the Christmas holidays! Kwanzaa is a seven-day, non-religious celebration, starting on Dec 26th each year. It has its roots in African American modern history, and many people celebrate both Kwanzaa and Christmas!

3- Have a happy New Year!

Haben Sie ein glückliches neues Jahr!

In countries where Christmas is not officially celebrated, but a Gregorian calendar is observed, this would be a friendly festive-season wish over New Year.

4- Happy Hanukkah!

Ein frohes Chanukka-Fest!

Hanukkah is the beautiful Hebrew festival over November or December each year. It is also called the ‘Festival of Lights’ and is celebrated to commemorate the Jewish freedom of religion.

5- Have a great winter vacation!

Schönen Winterurlaub!

This is a good phrase to keep handy if someone doesn’t observe any religious festival over the Christmas holidays! However, this will only be applicable in the Northern hemisphere, where it is winter over Christmas.

6- See you next year!

Bis zum nächsten Jahr!

Going away on holiday over Christmas season, or saying goodbye to someone about to leave on vacation? This would be a good way to say goodbye to your friends and family.

7- Warm wishes!

Alles Gute!

An informal, friendly phrase to write in German Christmas cards, especially for secular friends who prefer to observe Christmas celebrations without the religious symbolism. It conveys the warmth of friendship and friendly wishes associated with this time of year.

8- Happy holidays!

Frohe Feiertage!

If you forget how to say ‘Merry Christmas!’ in German, this is a safe, generic phrase to use instead.

9- Enjoy the holidays!

Genießen Sie die Feiertage!

After saying ‘Merry Christmas’ in German, this would be a good phrase with which to wish Christmas holiday-goers well! It is also good to use for secular friends who don’t celebrate Christmas but take a holiday at this time of the year.

10- Best wishes for the New Year!

Die besten Wünsche für das neue Jahr!

This is another way of wishing someone well in the New Year if they observe a Gregorian calendar. New Year’s day would then fall on January 1st.

3. Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary

Christmas is associated with many traditions and religious symbols in multiple countries across the world. It originated centuries ago in the West with the birth of Christianity, and the celebrations are often embedded with rich cultural significance. So, by now you know how to say Merry Christmas in German! Next, learn pertinent vocabulary and phrases pertaining to Christmas, as well as how to pronounce them correctly. At GermanPod101, we make sure you sound like a native speaker!

1- Christmas

Weihnachten

This is the German word for ‘Christmas’. Most happy Christmas wishes in German will include this word!

2- Snow

Schnee

In most Northern-hemisphere countries, Christmas is synonymous with snow, and for Christmas, the snowman is often dressed as Santa Claus.

3- Snowflake

Schneeflocke

Snowflakes collectively make up snow. A single snowflake is small, white, light like a feather and icy cold! When put under a microscope, the snowflake reveals itself to have the most beautiful, symmetrical patterns. These patterns have become popular Christmas decorations, especially in Western countries.

4- Snowman

Schneemann

As you guessed - a snowman is only possible to build if it is snowing! What a fun way to spend Christmas day outside.

5- Turkey

Truthahn

Roast turkey is the traditional main dish on thousands of lunch tables on Christmas day, mainly in Western countries. What is your favorite Christmas dish?

6- Wreath

Kranz

Another traditional Western decoration for Christmas, the wreath is an arrangement of flowers, leaves, or stems fastened in a ring. Many families like to hang a Christmas wreath outside on their houses’ front doors.

7- Reindeer

Rentier

Reindeer are the animals commonly fabled to pull Santa Claus’ sled across the sky! Western Christmas folklore tells of Father Christmas or Santa Claus doing the rounds with his sled, carrying Christmas presents for children, and dropping them into houses through the chimney. But who is Santa Claus?

8- Santa Claus

Weihnachtsmann

Santa Claus is a legendary and jolly figure originating in the Western Christian culture. He is known by many names, but is traditionally depicted as a rotund man wearing a red costume with a pointy hat, and sporting a long, snow-white beard!

9- Elf

Elf

An elf is a supernatural creature of folklore with pointy ears, a dainty, humanoid body and a capricious nature. Elves are said to help Santa Claus distribute presents to children over Christmas!

10- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudolf, das kleine Rentier

‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ is a Christmas song based on an American children’s story book with the same name. Rudolph is one of Santa’s reindeer. The song became more famous than the book, and can still be heard playing in many shopping malls over Christmas time across the globe!

11- North Pole

Nordpol

The cold North Pole is where Santa Claus is reputed to live with his reindeer!

12- Sled

Schlitten

A sled is a non-motorised land vehicle used to travel over snow in countries where it snows a lot, and is usually pulled by animals such as horses, dogs or reindeer. This one obviously refers to Santa’s sled! Another word for sled is sleigh or sledge.

13- Present

Geschenk

Gift or present giving is synonymous with Christmas Eve and the greatest source of joy for children over this festive time! This tradition signifies that Christ’s birth was a gift to mankind, but not all people who hand out presents over Christmas observe the religious meaning.

14- Bell

Glocke

On Christmas Day, or Christmas Eve, many religious celebrants enjoy going to church for a special sermon and Christmas rituals. The start of the sermon is often announced with bells or a bell, if the church has one. For this reason, the sound of ringing bells is often associated with Christmas Day.

15- Chimney

Schornstein

The chimney is the entrance Santa Claus uses to deliver children’s presents on Christmas Day, according to folklore! Wonder how the chubby man and his elves stay clean…?!

16- Fireplace

Kamin

In most countries where it snows, Christmas is synonymous with a fire or burning embers in houses’ fireplaces. Families huddle around its warmth while opening Christmas presents. Also, this is where Santa Claus is reputed to pop out after his journey down the chimney!

17- Christmas Day

Weihnachten

This is the official day of commemorative celebration of Christ’s birth, and falls each year on December 25.

18- Decoration

Dekoration

Decorations are the colourful trinkets and posters that make their appearance in shops and homes during the Christmas holiday season in many countries! They give the places a celebratory atmosphere in anticipation of the big Christmas celebration. Typical Christmas decorations include colorful photographs and posters, strings of lights, figurines of Santa Claus and the nativity scene, poinsettia flowers, snowflakes and many more.

19- Stocking

Strumpf

According to legend, Santa Claus places children’s presents in a red stocking hanging over the fireplace. This has also become a popular decoration, signifying Christmas.

20- Holly

Stechpalme

Holly is a shrub native to the UK, and parts of Europe, Africa and Asia. It is characterised by glossy, spiny-toothed leaves, small, whitish flowers, and red berries. Ironically, its significance for Christmas relates to Christ’s crucifixion and suffering rather than his birth. However, the leaves’ distinctive shape and image have become popular Christmas decorations.

21- Gingerbread house

Lebkuchenhaus

According to legend, the gingerbread house synonymous with Christmas is related to Christ’s birth place, Bethlehem. Bethlehem literally means ‘House of Bread’. Over centuries, it has become a popular treat over Christmas time in many non-religious households as well.

22- Candy cane

Zuckerstange

According to folklore, Christmas candy canes made their appearance first in Germany in the 16th century. A choir master gave children the candy canes to suck on in church in order to keep them quiet during the Christmas sermon! Apparently, the candy is shaped like a cane in remembrance of the shepherds who were the first to visit the baby Jesus. Today, like gingerbread houses, they are still a popular sweet over the festive season!

23- Mistletoe

Mistelzweig

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows on certain trees. In the Middle Ages, it was believed that the mistletoe has magical powers, and could protect a household from evil if hung above a door during December. The belief didn’t last but the habit did, and the mistletoe is another popular Christmas decoration!

4. Twelve Days of Christmas

Twelve Days of Christmas

Wow, you’re doing extremely well! You know how to wish someone a Merry Christmas in German, and you learned pertinent vocabulary too! The Twelve Days of Christmas is not very well known in modern times, so, you’re on your way to becoming an expert in Christmas traditions and rituals. Well done!

The Twelve Days of Christmas, also known as Twelvetide, is a traditional festive period of 12 days dedicated to celebrate the nativity of Christ. Christmas Day is, for many who observe Twelvetide, the first day of this period.

‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ is also a popular Christmas song about a series of gifts given on each day of Twelvetide. According to experts, these gifts were created as a coded reference to important symbols in the Christian church. Here is a list of those gifts mentioned in the song! Do you recognise them?

5. Top 10 Christmas Characters in American Culture

Top 10 Christmas Characters

This is fantastic, you know how to explain almost everything about Christmas in German! However, do you know the most popular Christmas characters in American culture? Your knowledge will not be complete without this list.

6. GermanPod101 Is One Of The Best Online Language Schools Available!

We don’t just say this - we can prove it! Geared to your personal needs and goals, we have several learning paths from which to choose. From German for Absolute Beginners to Advanced German, lessons are designed to meet you where you are, and increase your language abilities in fun, easy and interactive lessons! Mastering a new language has never been this easy or enjoyable.

We have over a decade of experience and research behind us, and it shows! With thousands of audio and video lessons, detailed PDF lessons and notes, as well as friendly, knowledgeable hosts, GermanPod101 is simply unbeatable when it comes to learning correct German. Plenty of tools and resources are available when you study with us. New lessons are added every week so material remains fresh and relevant. You also have the option to upgrade and enjoy even more personalised guidance and services. This is a sure way to fast-track your learning!

So, this Christmas, why don’t you give yourself a present and enroll in GermanPod101? Or give an enrollment as a present to a loved one. It will be a gift with benefits for a whole lifetime, not just over Christmas!

3 Ways to Practice and Master German

3 Ways to practice and master German

When it comes to foreign languages German sometimes gets a bad rap. People are quick to highlight the most difficult parts of the language and write it off as being next to impossible to learn. There are some unique features of the German language that can be challenging to native English speakers, but that need not scare new learners away.

With the right focus, and a little persistence you can start speaking the German language correctly and comfortably. In this post we’ll take a look at how to master three of the most difficult parts of the German language.

Why it’s important to pinpoint the hard parts of learning German

As a new German learner the complexity of the language can seem pretty intimidating. It doesn’t help that everything about the language is new. On top of that you’re hit with German grammar which is not only new (compared to English), but also very complex.

After you have a foundation of phrases and basic words you’ll want specifically focus time and energy into practicing the difficult aspects of the language. This will help you focus your efforts and see quicker gains in your learning. To don’t want your German learning to feel like spinning plates.

So without further delay let’s take a look at what can be three of the common pain points in the German language.

3 Ways to practice and master German

1) Articles

Articles are arguably the hardest part of German to master, but they aren’t something you need to be afraid of. Yes their difficult and yes there are a lot exceptions; but don’t let the grizzly reputation of German articles keep you from learning German.

A great way to master the articles is to learn and practice all German nouns with their appropriate article. This will keep you in the habit of using the correct articles over and over again until you start to feel which ones go with which words.

If you think about it this isn’t far removed from how native Germans learned their articles. German children don’t sit at home memorizing word charts or tables. They spend their childhood using and practicing the articles until they know them by heart.

Another great way beginners can practice articles is to listen to German audio (like a podcast) and pick out as many nouns as they can, making note of the articles that are used. Hearing the article/noun combination in the context of a real conversation will help the correct pairing stick in your mind.

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes when you practice with native speakers. You will inevitably misplace a few ( or a lot) of articles when you first start speaking German. Let those you practice with correct you. Take the feedback and keep the conversation going. You might make the same mistake 20 times but after the 21st you’ll never forget the correct way to say something.

2) Cases

Grammatical cases can be a hard concept for native English speakers to grasp, at least at first. The first time I realized I had to change nouns based on how they were used in a sentence it just about blew my mind (and not in a good way).

For those who may not know, grammatical cases are when nouns change form based on their position in a sentence. In a noun is the subject of a sentence it will be said one way. If it’s the object (the thing acted upon) it will be another, and if it shows possession still another, and so on. There are a total of four German cases.

There’s a temptation to throw in the towel or become discouraged after the first time you fumble your way through your first German sentences. Don’t be discouraged. Keep your head up because there is a method to overcome the madness.

In addition to your regular German learning regimen set aside a time to specifically practice grammatical cases. During this time pick one case and practice making sentences with it (you can write them out or practice them with a partner). Make sure you receive some sort of feedback on your work so you can correct your mistakes.

Just as you shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes when practicing German articles, you also shouldn’t be scared to make them while learning the grammatical cases.

Practice your chosen case until you’re comfortable with it, then move onto the next one. When you focus on one case at a time it takes a lot of the pressure off. You can relax and hone your skills quickly because you have less rules to think about.

3 Ways to practice and master German

3) Breakdown German pronunciation

Everyone knows German words can get long. Native speakers can also be hard to understand when they talk at normal speed. When words are spoken together sounds and syllables can morph or get dropped, confusing those new to the language.

One of the best ways to develop your listening skills and correct your German accent is to simply break everything down. Start with the letters and sounds of the German alphabet. Focus on the sounds that are the most difficult for you and practice pronouncing them while comparing your voice to native speakers.

Pay attention to common diphthongs (paired vowel sounds) and consonant clusters. Nailing down the correct pronunciation of each will be essential to developing your accent.

Once you get the basics of the alphabet down move onto phrases from dialogues or German music and TV. (GermanPod101’s playback feature is great for this). Select a phrase from your German audio. Then break the words down into their individual letters and syllables. Pronounce the syllables one by one and gradually link them together into words. Once you’re comfortable with the individual words try listening to how the native speaker says the entire phrase.

Most likely there will be some words or parts of the phrase that sound a little different from the way you would read or say them individually. When you notice this do your best to imitate the native speaker. Focus more on how the sounds link together and not only the individual words. This will go a long way toward helping you both pronounce and understand German.

Conclusion

German seems much less intimidating once you break it up into its individual parts. Focusing on the problem points in your learning helps you work more efficiently and effectively. After a while the language that once seemed so foreign will start to feel more natural. Just remember to be persistent and enjoy the journey toward fluency! Sometimes it’s a bumpy road but it is always worthwhile.

5 Tips To Motivate Yourself While Learning A Second Language

5 Tips to Motivate Yourself

1. Schedule your time.

One of the most important factors in keeping your motivation up is developing it into a habit. Whether it be 20 minutes or 3 hours, schedule time to study every day and stick to it. Regular exposure solidifies what you learn and keeps you progressing. To make sure you stick to your routine, a great idea is to build a schedule for your day and decide that every day/Monday/weekend, you study from 6pm to 8pm. Just remember that 30 minutes a day, every day, is better than a binge 8-hour study session at the end of the week (though it’s obviously better than nothing).

2. Learn a word a day with our great Word of the Day learning tool.

Trying to learn everything at once and getting overwhelmed by the sheer number of words in your new language is not a good idea. Sometimes, even if you do learn new words, you forget them quickly because you haven’t heard them enough in context. As mentioned above, daily exposure to new words is an important factor in solidifying your target language. Our Word of the Day tool delivers you daily words and phrases, shows you how to pronounce them and use them in different contexts. Since you can get the WOTD via email, Facebook, or Twitter, this is a passive way of learning a language that fits into your existing daily social media routine. It only takes 3 minutes to review a word and practice its pronunciation, so you can do it on the way to work, in the gym, or even before you go to bed.

Click here to get the German Word of the Day for FREE!

3. Make friends!

Make friends!

If there’s a community of people who speak the language you want to learn in your city, start attending those events! Friendship is the easiest way to get comfortable with the slang, intonation, and mannerisms of a new language. The key to learning any language is speaking a lot, so try to find a native speaker who can be your conversation partner. Having friends that speak your target language means that you will find yourself in situations where you have no choice but to speak that language. But since they are your friends, you will be doing things you enjoy with them. So these situations will probably have little or no stress. These friendships will also mean that you have someone you can ask about language, culture, and so on.

4. Take a break!

Break time

If you’re having an off day or if your brain is already tired of studying, see if you can take a break and do something fun AND useful. Comic books, illustrated stories, and cartoons are a fun way to keep learning while reducing the target language text load for weary eyes. Plus, the images help you plant lasting seeds of memory, as researchers say humor opens up cognitive doors. This is a way to keep the target language active in your brain without the strain of studying a textbook.

Don’t get stuck with the same content though. When things start to bore you, move on. Change up your books, movies, anime, music, dramas, and so on when they start getting old.

5. Don’t give up!

As with any goal, there are going to be pitfalls along the way. You’d have to be incredibly determined to never have an off-day or consider giving up. And when you do it’s ok, but the important thing is to pick yourself up after this temporary setback and keep going. Knowing you’ve overcome a few obstacles is only going to make the moment you have your first conversation in another language that much sweeter. Like the German proverb says, ‘Fall down seven times, stand up eight.’

If you need more motivation, check out this list of the Top 10 Inspirational Quotes in German.

Cyber Monday at Ultralingua: For People Who Love German!

Incredible news from our friends over at Ultralingua, the online and mobile dictionary specialists. A good German dictionary can be hard to find, but with Ultralingua and GermanPod101 by your side, you’ll be armed with 2 of the most powerful German learning tools online.

Ultralingua Cyber Monday Sale! Save up to 66% on on Ultralingua Dictionary products! Sale begins Sunday, November 25th, 2012 and ends at midnight Cyber Monday. (That’s November 26th, 2012!)

Check out some of their amazing deals:

The All New Ultralingua Dictionary for iPhone and iPad: Free to download, save 25% on all In-App Upgrades until Monday! Click here to download it free!

Original Ultralingua iPhone and iPad Apps: Save 25% instantly when you purchase during this Cyber Monday sale! Click here to browse Ultralingua apps on iTunes!

Mac and Windows German Dictionaries: Save 25% when you use coupon code CYBER at checkout! Click here to learn more!

Annual Online Dictionary Subscriptions: At just $10 per month, you save a whopping 66% on all annual dictionary subscriptions at Ultralingua. Just enter coupon code CYBER at checkout!

Looking for other language dictionaries? Ultralingua has dictionary products for 13 languages including Spanish, Italian, French and even Klingon! Read more about Ultralingua at the Ultralingua Word of the Day Blog.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year From GermanPod101.com!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from everyone here at GermanPod101.com! We’re grateful to have listeners just like you, and we’re eagerly waiting for the upcoming year to learn German together!

And when the New Year comes around, be sure to make a resolution to study German with GermanPod101.com!

Have a healthy and happy holiday season.

From the GermanPod101.com team!