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Lesson Transcript

Eric: Hello and welcome to Culture Class: German Superstitions and Beliefs, Lesson 1 - Wishing Someone Happy Birthday and Shards Bringing Good or Bad Luck. I'm Eric, and I'm joined by Jennifer.
Jennifer: Hallo! Hi, I'm Jennifer.
Eric: In this lesson we will talk about two common superstitions in Germany. The first superstition is about bad luck. What’s it called in German?
Jennifer: Zum Geburtstag gratulieren
Eric: Which literally means "wishing happy birthday." Jennifer, can you repeat the German phrase again?
Jennifer: [slow] Zum Geburtstag gratulieren [normal] Zum Geburtstag gratulieren
Eric: Jennifer, isn’t your birthday coming up soon?
Jennifer: Yeah, in about a week.
Eric: So how do you say “Happy Birthday” in German?
Jennifer: I’ll tell you on my birthday, but not before.
Eric: Why not?
Jennifer: In Germany, it's believed that wishing somebody a happy birthday in advance brings bad luck.
Eric: Oh right. In general, Germans think that you can’t be too sure of something before it really happens.
Jennifer: The same goes for birthdays.
Eric: So I’ll tell you happy birthday on your birthday and not before.
Jennifer: Much obliged.
Eric: The second superstition is about good luck. What’s it called in German?
Jennifer: Bringen Scherben Glück oder Unglück?
Eric: Which literally means "Do shards bring good luck or bad luck?" Let’s hear it in German again.
Jennifer: [slow] Bringen Scherben Glück oder Unglück? [normal] Bringen Scherben Glück oder Unglück?
Eric: So in Germany, do shards of glass bring good luck or bad luck?
Jennifer: Hard to say. It's a little bit of both.
Eric: Because glass was once very expensive, it was seen as bad luck when glass broke.
Jennifer: So, after a glass broke, people would say Scherben bringen Glück.
Eric: Which means “shards bring luck.” This way, the bad luck would be counteracted.
Jennifer: So depending on what you do, shards can bring good or bad luck.


Eric: There you have it - two German superstitions! Are they similar to any of your country’s superstitions? Let us know in the comments!
Jennifer: Auf Wiedersehen!