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Lesson Transcript

INTRODUCTION
Eric: Hello and welcome to Culture Class: German Superstitions and Beliefs, Lesson 5 - Giving a Knife Gift and Shaking a Chimney Sweep's Hand. I'm Eric and I'm joined by Jennifer.
Jennifer: Hallo! I'm Jennifer.
THE TWO SUPERSTITIONS
Eric: In this lesson we’ll talk about two common superstitions in Germany. The first superstition is about bad luck. What’s it called in German?
Jennifer: Messer an Freunde und Bekannte verschenken
Eric: Which literally means "To give a knife as a present to friends and relatives." Jennifer, can you repeat the German phrase again?
Jennifer: [slow] Messer an Freunde und Bekannte verschenken [normal] Messer an Freunde und Bekannte verschenken
Eric: So as we said in a previous lesson, Jennifer’s birthday is coming up. Have you given any thoughts to what you want for your birthday?
Jennifer: Well I know what I don’t want - a knife!
Eric: In Germany, it's believed that giving knives as a present brings bad luck.
Jennifer: This is because the knife will break or cut the friendship.
Eric: So no knives for your birthday?
Jennifer: No, but maybe a blender instead.
Eric: The second superstition is about good luck. What’s it called in German?
Jennifer: Dem Schornsteinfeger die Hand geben
Eric: Which literally means "Shake the chimney sweep's hand." Let’s hear it in German again.
Jennifer: [slow] Dem Schornsteinfeger die Hand geben [normal] Dem Schornsteinfeger die Hand geben
Eric: This superstition is a bit old-fashioned. In Germany, it's believed that shaking the chimney sweep's hand would bring good luck and protect the home.
Jennifer: I’m not sure there are many chimney sweeps left to shake hands with.
Eric: I definitely don’t know any. Jennifer, where does this superstition come from?
Jennifer: In the past, houses in Germany were quite prone to fire.
Eric: So, the chimney sweep, who made the house more safe through his work, was thought to be lucky.
Jennifer: Exactly. So if you do meet a chimney sweep, make sure to shake his hand.

Outro

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!

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Do you know any other German superstitions?