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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Germany Series at GermanPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind German holidays and observances. I’m Matt, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 15 - Ash Wednesday.
In this lesson, we will discuss how people celebrate Ash Wednesday, called “Aschermittwoch” in Germany. Ash Wednesday marks the end of Carnival and the beginning of Lent or “Fastenzeit”. It occurs 46 days before Easter Sunday, so between February 4 and March 10. Ash Wednesday is not a public holiday in Germany.
Now, before we get into more detail, I've got a question for you-
People celebrate a lot during Carnival and some of them also appear drunk and say the phrase “einen Kater haben”. Do you know what this means exactly?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later, so keep listening!
In the church service on Ash Wednesday, a cross of ashes, “Aschekreuz” in German, is drawn on the forehead of the believers. The ash is taken from burned palm branches. The saying "Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return" is to remind us of the transience of life. With this ritual, Lent is introduced, which is accompanied by the themes of contemplation, repentance, and conversion. Since the carnival is rooted strongly in Catholicism, Ash Wednesday is more important in Catholic churches than in Protestant churches.
Major political parties gather with up to 6,000 participants for political Ash Wednesday. In 1580, Bavarian farmers met for the first time in Vilshofen, on the Danube, and discussed Bavarian politics. Nowadays, the political Ash Wednesday also takes place in other German federal states, which are called “Bundesländer”. The focus of the meeting is not objective criticism – the assemblies are used to identify the shortcomings of political opponents in an emotional rhetoric and strengthen their own ranks in that way.
Around the year 600, Pope Gregory the Great prescribed a forty-day fast to remember the time that Jesus Christ spent in the wilderness. Formerly, the Catholic doctrine prescribed to forgo meat, milk and eggs. These days, however, many people consume milk and eggs during Lent. Nowadays, people take a modern approach to fasting. Many avoid alcohol, sweets and cigarettes instead. Others refrain from watching television or using cars or the Internet before Easter.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
What does the phrase einen Kater haben mean?
It means "to have a hangover" and you’ll have a thick, heavy head. So, what can you do to prevent it? Have greasy and protein-rich foods before the celebrations, and make sure you drink lots of water!
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
How do you celebrate Ash Wednesday in your country?
Leave a comment telling us at GermanPod101.com. Until next time!