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CHRISTMAS

German word of the day: Die Bescherung

One word in front of this word of the day can change everything...

German word of the day: Die Bescherung
Gifts under a tree in Hamburg. Photo: DPA

Die Bescherung 

What does it mean? 

Most years in Germany, after a hearty Christmas dinner and maybe a church service on December 24th, there will most likely be a Bescherung

Gifts wrapped up and ready for opening on Christmas Eve. Photo: DPA.

This is the moment when everyone gathers around the Christmas tree and opens presents. Die Bescherung is a noun, describing the event and is based on the verb bescheren, to give or bring, especially presents. 

Where does it come from? 

Bescheren has its roots in the Middle High German word beschern, which means “assign” or “deliver.”

Historically, it was associated closely with notions of fate and God’s allotment to humans. 

As a result, gifts were often seen as coming from Christ, as divine presents. 

Now, German children celebrating Christmas receive gifts on Christmas Eve either from Der Christkind or Der Weihnachtsmann

READ ALSO: Why “Das Christkind” vs. “Der Weihnachtsmann” is a big debate in Germany

Animals want a Bescherung too! A gorilla in Stuttgart receives his Christmas gift. Photo: DPA. 

Double meaning? 

Bescherung is one of the interesting cases where a word can have two completely opposite meanings based on the situation it is used in. If you use it as part of an excited expression on Christmas it has a positive connotation. 

However, if you hear a German say “Da haben wir die Bescherung!” or “schöne Bescherung” it might mean something a bit different. These are colloquial phrases used to note an unpleasant surprise. 

A 1998 production of “Schöne Bescherung” as a play in Düsseldorf. Photo: DPA.

In fact, the German title of the “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” movie is “Schöne Bescherung.” Uncle Eddie’s arrival at the Griswold’s is a classic example of a schöne Bescherung

Example sentences:

Wann haben wir die Bescherung? 

When do we open the presents?

Er bescherte mir ein wunderschönes Geschenk.

He gave me a wonderful present.

 

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CHRISTMAS

German Christmas market closures ‘can’t be ruled out’: health expert

As Germany battles a fierce Covid wave, concerns are growing over events, with one health expert saying closures of the country's beloved Christmas markets can't be ruled out.

Revellers enjoy mulled wine at the 'Santa Pauli' Christmas market in Hamburg on November 15th.
Revellers enjoy mulled wine at the 'Santa Pauli' Christmas market in Hamburg on November 15th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marcus Brandt

Martina Wenker, president of the Lower Saxony Medical Association, said she believed Christmas markets may have to be cancelled if the Covid-19 situation gets worse in Germany. 

“Depending on the regional incidence situation, closures should not be ruled out in extreme cases,” Wenker told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

“We can’t stand by and celebrate while next door in the hospitals, planned operations have to be postponed frequently, corona patients are dying, and staff in practices and clinics are at their limits.”

Wenker said regional leaders allowed the opening of Christmas markets on the basis that the Covid situation was moderate.

“But if we reach higher levels of escalation, we will have to consider whether Christmas markets are still justifiable,” she said.

Germany on Tuesday reported 32,048 Covid infections within 24 hours and 265 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence increased to 312.4 Covid cases per 100,000 residents. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s Covid incidence tops 300 for first time

‘Maximum safety’

Bavarian state premier Markus Söder said on Monday that he wanted to ensure there was “maximum safety” around Christmas markets.

He said it will be among the topics discussed at the Covid crisis talks between the federal government and state leaders this Thursday. 

In general, Söder said mask requirements should remain at Christmas markets as well as distance rules and other protection measures. 

In an interview with broadcaster Bayern3, Söder explained that so far there is no legal framework for Bavaria to cancel Christmas markets. “At the moment, we cannot legally order it,” he said.

Some Christmas markets, which have recently opened to the public, are already enforcing strict rules such as excluding the unvaccinated from entry, or not serving alcohol to people unless they can show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid. 

READ ALSO:

Vocabulary

Christmas market – (der) Weihnachtsmarkt

Celebrate – feiern

Planned operations/procedures – geplante Eingriffe 

Postponed – verschoben

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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