What does it mean?
Let’s start by breaking down this mouthful of a winter word. Der Schlitten is a sleigh or sled, or colloquially, a cool ride. Der Schuh means “the shoe,” and Das Laufen is “the walking or running” from the verb laufen.
So, Das Schlittschuhlaufen conjures up images of sleigh-shaped shoes running. Does that bring any fun winter activity to mind?
That’s right: Das Schlittschuhlaufen means “the ice-skating.” Das Eiskunstlaufen or Das Figurlaufen are ways to say “figure skating,” that Olympic sport many of us know and love.
Children ice skating in Wolfsburg. Photo: DPA.
Where does it come from?
Historians believe that using ice skates as a means of transportation began around 1000 BC in Scandinavia with various animal bones used as blades.
The Dutch also heavily relied on skates as a means of transit through the Netherland’s many canals and improved the technology with metal blades.
Over time, the technology of the skates has advanced even more, and the practical means of transit has transformed into an international sport and pastime.
Do people in Germany enjoy it?
Some advanced Schlittschuhlaufen taking place in Düsseldorf. Photo: DPA.
While there are skating clubs across Germany, ice-skating is particularly idyllic as part of a Christmas market. In Heidelberg, visitors can skate around an Eisbahn (ice rink) at the foot of the castle.
Watching joyful children and adults go round and round in circles on the ice rink while Christmas music plays in the background is a lovely addition to any Weihnachtsmarkt! The best part? A steaming mug of Heisse Schokolade (hot cocoa) waiting outside the rink.
Mama, dürfen wir bitte Schlittschuhlaufen gehen?
Mama, may we please go ice-skating?
Schlittschuhlaufen macht am meisten Spaß, wenn festliche Musik gespielt wird.
Ice-skating is the most fun when festive music is played.