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EASTER

German word of the day: Der Osterhase

As Easter starts, welcome to a series of Easter-themed words of the day. Today, we start off by looking a bit more into the German version of the Easter Bunny.

German word of the day: Der Osterhase
An 'Osterhase' spotted early in Algermissen, Lower Saxony. Photo: DPA

Let’s start this off with a song that might get stuck in your head: Around Easter each year, German children are very likely to sing “Stups, der kleine Osterhase” (“Stups, the little Easter Bunny.”)

It’s a song about a clumsy bunny, which messes up the hiding places of the Easter eggs.

Here’s a version of the song, sun by famous German singer-songwriter Rolf Zuckowski. 

And with this, we can start getting into the history of the Osterhase. Osterhase is, like its English equivalent, a combination of the words Ostern (“Easter”) and Hase (“bunny.”)

“Easter” and the German Ostern have a similar ring to them. That is because they probably have the same origin: A combination of the Old High German Ôstarûn, as well as the Old English word ēastron.

Both are thought to date back to the Indo-European word ausos, which means “dawn.” The sun rises in the East (Osten in German). Ostern is now believed to link to that dawn – probably because of Jesus’ believed resurgence on Easter Sunday.

But why exactly does the Hase bring the eggs around Easter, you ask?

While there aren’t really any official documents proving that, a lot of entries can be found online that link the Easter Bunny to the Byzantine animal symbols. There, a bunny symbolises Jesus Christ.

Because a bunny allegedly sleeps with its eyes open, it represents the resurged, who will never pass away (entschlafen in German, which translates to “sleep away”) again. Also, bunnies are known to have loads of offspring each year and therefore symbolise fertility, which can also be linked to resurrection and a new beginning of life.

Additionally, eggs are a symbol for birth and new life as well, which may be why the Osterhase brings Ostereier (“Easter eggs.”)

So, now that you know about the origins of the words Ostern and why there even is an Osterhase, go outside and hide some treats for your children – while humming “Stups, der kleine Osterhase,” of course.

Typical German chocolate Osterhasen being sold in Brandenburg. Photo: DPA

Examples:

Wann kommt endlich der Osterhase und versteckt die Eier?

When does the Easter bunny finally arrive and hide the eggs?

Ich glaube nicht mehr an den Osterhasen.

I don’t believe in the Easter Bunny anymore.

Warum heißt es “Osterhase”? Hasen legen doch keine Eier.

Why is it called “Easter Bunny”? Bunnies don’t lay eggs after all.

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GERMAN WORD OF THE DAY

German word of the day: Rücksicht

Here's how to take this thoughtful word into consideration.

German word of the day: Rücksicht

Why do I need to know Rücksicht?

Because it’s a commonly used word and knowing what it means – and practising it – will make you a better person.

What does Rücksicht mean?

Rücksicht is a feminine noun which means “consideration” or “regard”. It’s made up of the shortened form of the word zurück meaning “back” and Sicht – which means view. So literally, it means, back view, or looking back.

This literal meaning tells you something about how the word is used in German – if you look back to see what’s happened to your friend, you are taking them into consideration.

If you want to really make sure you don’t forget what Rücksicht means – you can watch the following video of Germany’s 1983 Eurovision song contest entry. The catchy ballad – called “Rücksicht” – came in place 5 of the competition that year. 

How to use Rücksicht

When using Rücksicht, bear in mind that it is usually paired with specific verbs and prepositions.

The most commonly used set phrase is Rücksicht auf etwas/jemand nehmen, which is used to mean “to be considerate of” or “to take care of” someone or something. For example:

Radfahrer müssen auf Fußgänger Rücksicht nehmen.

Cyclists must be considerate of pedestrians.

Er nimmt Rücksicht auf die Bedürfnisse seiner schwangeren Frau.

He takes care of his pregnant wife’s needs.

Rücksicht is usually followed by the preposition auf, but it can be preceded by a number of prepositions to compose different phrases. 

Mit Rücksicht auf for example, means “in view of” and ohne Rücksicht auf means “without consideration for”, while aus Rücksicht auf means “out of consideration for.” 

Here are some examples:

Führungen dürfen aus Rücksicht auf die Teilnehmer nicht aufgenommen werden.
Out of consideration of the participants, tours may not be recorded.
 
Er will tun, was er möchte, ohne Rücksicht auf die Anderen.
He wants to do what he wants, without considering other people.
 
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