German word of the day: Die Feuerzangenbowle

Our word of the day is something that's popular with students and you might find it at a festive party – but be careful if you do!

German word of the day: Die Feuerzangenbowle
Photo: Depositphotos

Beware of this word, or actually: beware of this drink. Die Feuerzangenbowle (literal translations: fire tong punch or burnt punch) is a German Christmas punch that can make you feel very dizzy really fast.

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Like mulled wine, the basis of this punch is red wine that is infused with different spices, such as cinnamon, cloves and orange zest.

What happens afterwards is what makes it special: First, a fire tong, which is a special metal kitchen utensil, gets placed over the bowl with the red wine.

This tong holds a Zuckerhut (sugar hat), a small mountain of sugar, which gets soaked in brown rum. Afterwards, you light the sugar mountain on fire. While the sugar melts, it caramelizes and drips, still burning, in the liquid below. This gives the beverage a distinct and very sugary taste.

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A diagram of classic Christmas market drinks, including the Feuerzangenbowie. Photo: DPA

Feuerzangenbowle is especially popular throughout the Christmas season and gets sold at many German Christmas markets. Due to its high alcohol content, it is especially famous among students.

Even though the drink has appeared as early as in the 19th century, its widespread popularity can be linked to the release of the 1944 film Die Feuerzangenbowle. This German movie starts with a group of elderly men, who are drinking the punch and talking about their school years.

Right up to the present day, the movie is shown in universities around Christmas time and is hugely popular. Students even bring their own mulled wine, flashlights and other props to participate in parts of the movie.


Könnte ich bitte eine Feuerzangenbowle haben?

Could I please have a burnt punch?

Ich mag keine Feuerzangenbowle, weil sie mir zu süß ist.

I don’t like burnt punch because is too sweet for me.

Photo: DPA

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This article was produced independently with support from Lingoda.

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German word of the day: Isso

Perhaps you've seen this word on social media and you're not sure what it means. Let us explain...

German word of the day: Isso

Why do I need to know isso?

Because it’s a nice colloquial expression to use if you’re feeling a little lazy since it combines a few words. It was also one of Germany’s favourite youth words back in 2016, although it’s definitely not particularly cool anymore and is used by all ages

What does it mean?

Isso is derived from the statement: ist so (short for es ist so) meaning ‘it’s like this’ or ‘it is so’ in English. When used as a response to someone’s statement, it usually means you completely agree. A good translation is: ‘right on!’, yes, that’s exactly right!’ or ‘it’s true!’.

You can also use the expression yourself to emphasise your thought. In this case you’d add it on at the end of your sentence. You often find isso used on Twitter, when someone is quoting a Tweet.

It can also be used in a more downbeat form accompanied by the shrugging of your shoulders. In this case you’re saying isso, because it can’t be helped, it’s the way it is. 

Use it like this: 

– Wir müssen gegen steigende Mietpreise in Berlin demonstrieren.

– Isso! 

– We have to protest against rising rents in Berlin. 

– That’s exactly right!

Frauen sind die besten Autofahrer, isso!

Women are the best drivers, it’s true.