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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

The 6 German words you need to know for spring

With May 1st now over and the sun finally coming out, The Local looks at essential German words for describing your spring fever (Frühlingsgefühl).

The 6 German words you need to know for spring
You might find a few of these guys enjoying the sun in your friend's Schrebergarten. Photo: DPA.

1. der Frühlingsbote – harbinger of spring

Photo: DPA.

Birds twittering love songs to one another, baby flowers budding on the trees, restaurants advertising fresh Spargel (we'll get to that later) – these are all examples of Frühlingsbote that let you know springtime is coming to Germany.

2. die Spargelsaison or die Spargelzeit – asparagus season

Photo: DPA.

To anyone who has lived in Germany at least a year, it's quite obvious that Germans go quite mad for white asparagus when the season starts up in the spring, only lasting up to mid-June.

The traditional meal consists of white asparagus, hollandaise sauce, Black Forest ham (Schwarzwälder Schinken) and boiled potatoes, but you're sure to see menu specials of all varieties – everywhere you go – this time of year. 

SEE ALSO: How to stay sane in asparagus season

3. das Naturgefühl – a feeling of oneness with nature

The Black Forest National Park, Baden-Württemberg. Photo: DPA.

With the flowers abloom and the grass getting greener, it's no wonder many Germans start to get a strong sense of Naturgefühl during springtime. 

4. die Blumenpracht – a magnificent display of flowers

Photo: DPA.

Be sure to compliment your German friends on their new Blumenpracht, because if there's one thing Germans love about spring flowers, it's arranging them in beautiful displays.

5. die Bowle – mixed fruit and sparkling wine beverage

Photo: DPA.

Bowle is to spring and summer what Glühwein (mulled wine) is to winter. This refreshing drink usually consists of wine or sparkling wine with juice, chunks of fruit, sugar and sometimes spirits like vodka or rum.

SEE ALSO: The top German drinks for staying cool when it's hot

6. der Schrebergarten or der Kleingarten – small gardens outside city life

'Schreber' gardens in Leipzig. Photo: DPA.

Newcomers to Germany might be a bit surprised to see what at first sight appear to be slums on the fringes of cities, though surprisingly lush and green.

These little colonies are in fact Schrebergärten, also known as a Kleingärten, that serve as allotment gardens to city folk who want to rent a space outside the hustle and bustle of metropolitan life, kick back and enjoy a little slice of nature.

The term Schrebergarten came about in the 1800s when the Industrial Revolution had led to a boom of people moving away from rural life and into the cities to find work. Poor, working class families were living in cramped conditions inside the city and were missing the sunlight and fresh produce they once enjoyed in the countryside.

So the so-called Schreber Movement emerged, named after a Leipzig academic who wrote about the social and public health consequences of urbanization, Daniel Gottlob Moritz Schreber. This movement proposed the creation of “gardens for the poor” – open spaces where this impoverished group could grow their own food and children could enjoy the benefits of nature.

The first of such gardens started in Leipzig in the 1860s, but by now the concept is popular across socio-economic groups – so don't be surprised if you get an invite to visit one this spring.

WORK

Commuting: How many people in Germany travel to another federal state for work?

The number of people who travel long distances to get to work in Germany has been rising in recent years. How could petrol and public transport costs change - and will the pandemic affect working habits?

Commuting: How many people in Germany travel to another federal state for work?
Drivers on the Autobahn 7 in north Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bodo Marks

Nearly 3.4 million people in Germany travelled to work in a different federal state than their place of residence last year. 

That’s according to current commuter figures from the Federal Employment Agency (BA), which were requested by the Left Party, and made available to DPA.

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in commuter numbers in Germany. In 1999, only 2.1 million people didn’t have their place of work in the state in which they lived.

The BA figures do not show, however, how many people temporarily did not have to commute because of coronavirus-related restrictions that have led to many people working from home.

In the statistics, a comparison is made between the place of residence and the place of work, a BA spokeswoman explained. “Whether the place of work is actually visited cannot be mapped out,” she said.

But the Federal Statistical Office previously conducted a survey on the influence of the pandemic on commuting behaviour, which gives us some insight. According to it, there was a decline in commuting from March 2020. In April, the decline became more pronounced, and in May 2020, more people were commuting again.

There is currently a lot of discussion about whether people will also be able to do more home working after the pandemic and therefore also have to commute less.

READ ALSO: Home Office makes employees more effective and happy, Germany study finds

Why is commuting being discussed in Germany right now?

This issue has come to the forefront because of the federal election coming up this September. Parties have been debating how to reduce carbon emissions, while also balancing out people’s car usage and Germany’s love of the automobile. There’s also been talk about the cost of public transport.

Green Party co-leader Annalena Baerbock has – according to her party’s draft programme – advocated to raise the tax on petrol by 16 cents a litre if the Greens were to win power, in an effort to push the country more towards carbon neutrality.

It would increase gas prices by around 10 percent.

Against the backdrop of the current debate on gas prices, the Left Party’s Sabine Zimmermann called for consideration to be given to commuters. It would be “cynical if the price of getting to work were to be pushed ever higher,” she told DPA.

Zimmermann added: “Employees are being asked to be mobile and, in some cases, to travel long distances to work. No federal government, not even the Greens, have wanted to change anything about that so far.”

As far as transportation is concerned, Zimmermann did call for an end to the internal combustion engine. However, she said, the government must keep the commute to work affordable. This includes the expansion of railroads with low-cost tickets and affordable electro-mobility options. 

Where are Germany’s commuters?

Compared to 2019, the number of people living and working in different federal states last year fell slightly, according to the BA statistics. There were 3.381 million federal state commuters subject to social security contributions in 2020. In 2019, there were 3.396 million.

According to the statistics, the most commuters between federal states in 2020 were 225,000 going from Brandenburg to Berlin, and the fewest were 41 from Bremen to Saarland.

The example of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, shows the extent of commuting beyond urban areas: 93,000 employees lived in North Rhine-Westphalia but worked in neighbouring Lower Saxony, 64,000 in neighboring Hesse. Meanwhile, 47,000 NRW residents worked in Bavaria and 38,000 in Baden-Württemberg.

In 2020, around 408,000 eastern German employees commuted to the west, according to the Federal Agency’s figures (2019: 415,000). Conversely, around 178,000 employees came from western Germany to work in the east, remaining unchanged from the previous year.

It is yet to be seen how the pandemic will impact long-term habits of commuting in Germany. 

MUST READ: Will working from home become norm post-corona crisis?

Vocabulary

Commuter/commuters – (der or die) Pendler

Place of work – (der) Arbeitsort

Comparison (der) Abgleich 

Against the background of – vor dem Hintergrund von

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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