Friday, December 30, 2016

How do you say “Happy New Year” in German?

Germans like to be “froh” or “fröhlich,” as testified by the Christmas greetings “Frohe Weihnachten!” and “Fröhliche Weihnachten!” (see How do you say Merry Christmas in German?). In Germany, folks wish each other “a happy new year”—“ein frohes neues Jahr!”, typically using the indefinite article at the phrase beginning. 

Ein fröhliches neues Jahr!” is grammatically correct, but considered too long and rarely used. Also common are “ein gutes neues Jahr!” and “ein schönes neues Jahr!” meaning “a good new year!” and “a pleasant new year!”, respectively.

Of course, you can get creative by using other adjectives. For example, “ein gesundes neues Jahr!” for “a healthy new year!”; “ein erfolgreiches neues Jahr!” for “a successful new year!” or  “ein friedliches neues Jahr!” for “a peaceful new year!”    

And then there is the greeting “Einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!”, or shorter: “Guten Rutsch!” It is somewhat of a mystery, how this phrase derived.  The noun “Rutsch” means slide or glide. So, you may take this phrase literally as “slide well into the new year.” Considering that New Year's Eve often comes with snow-and-ice weather conditions, this greeting can evoke a dark-humor connotation. However, an older meaning of  “Rutsch” is travel. In this regard, the phrase “Guten Rutsch!” casually wishes a good journey into (and through) the next year.

German-English Vocabulary to derive German “New Year” greetings/wishes

ein: a
erfolgreich: successful
friedlich: peaceful
froh: happy or merry
gesund: healthy 
gut: good 
Jahr: year
neu: new
schön: pleasant

Friday, December 23, 2016

How do you find mulled wine on a German Christmas market?

A “Glühwein” bar on Bremen's Christmas market
If you don't find it by its smell, you want to look for the word “Glühwein.” This masculine noun is composed of the stem “Glüh” and the noun “Wein.”  “Glüh” is derived from the verb “glühen,” meaning “to glow.” And you already figured that “Wein” means “wine.” The hot alcoholic drink has a glow to it (depending on how you are looking at it)—and you will glow after drinking one or two cups or mugs.

A typical “Glühwein” recipe asks for red wine (white wine is possible too), water, cloves, cinnamon, sugar, and orange slices. I prefer honey instead of plain sugar. Although I never tried it, I think maple syrup would be another flavorful alternative. To further spice up the drink, a piece of ginger may be added.  “Glühwein” is not an instant drink. “Glühwein” requires  time to both be prepared and be enjoyed. 

Looking for something sweeter and stronger than “Glühwein?” Try a mug of  “Feuerzangenbowle” —the more sugary and rum-enhanced version of mulled wine.

A “Glühwein”mug to drink mulled wine

Thursday, December 22, 2016

How do you translate “Beeswax” into German?

Beeswax candles
Beeswax candles at Christmas market in Bremen, Germany
The English compositum “beeswax” is one of those words that can be translated by simple concatenation of the translated nouns from which it is built. The German word for “bees” is ”Bienen,” the plural form of the feminine noun ”Biene.” The German word for “wax” is the etymologically related noun ”Wachs.” Stringing ”Bienen” and ”Wachs” together, we get ”Bienenwachs.”

The top picture shows candles made of beeswax for sale at the Christmas market in downtown Bremen, Germany. A sign promises that the candles are made of 100% pure beeswax. If you want to buy a beeswax candle, you would ask for a ”Bienenwachskerze.” The feminine German noun ”Kerze” means candle. The plural form of  ”Bienenwachskerze” is ”Bienenwachskerzen.”

Shopping for beeswax candles
Shopping for beeswax candles at a market hut on Bremen's Christmas market

Friday, December 2, 2016

How do you say “Merry Christmas” in German?

Gingerbread hearts with German Christmas greetings
Gingerbread hearts with German Christmas greetings at Christmas market in downtown Bremen: “Frohe Weihnachten” und “Frohes Fest

  • English: “Merry Christmas”
  • German: “Frohe Weihnachten or “Fröhliche Weihnachten 

Merry Christmas” means “Frohe Weihnachten” (pronounced: froo-he vi-nach-tenn) in German. Note that the first “h” in “Weihnachten” is not pronounced.  The dipthong “ch” is glutteral. The longer greeting “Fröhliche Weihnachten” is used synonymously for “Frohe Weihnachten.”

The shorter version “Frohe Weihnachten”often is the preferred form in writing—such as the sugar-ink writing on gingerbread hearts, one of which is shown in the picture above. The blue-rimmed heart in the background says: “Frohes Fest.” In this context, “Fest” means “holiday” with the undertone of “celebration.”

If you are going to wish someone “Merry Christmas” in German or want to finish your letter, postcard or e-mail with a seasonal greeting, you also could include the word  “Tag” (meaning “day”) or “Zeit” (meaning “time”) in  your greeting phrase. “Ich wünsche Ihnen frohe Weihnachtstage!” means “I wish you merry Christmas Days!” Yes, there are two official Christmas holidays in Germany (December 25 and December 26). “Ich wünsche Ihnen und Ihrer Familie eine frohe Weihnachtszeit!” means “I wish you and your family a merry Christmas time!

Keywords: Christmas greeting; translation; Übersetzen; English-German; Englisch-Deutsch.