German phrase of the day: Soviel Zeit muss sein

German phrase of the day: Soviel Zeit muss sein
The 'Zeitfeld' exhibit in Düsseldorf in March 2020. Photo: DPA
Rushing through your day? Absentmindedly hurrying through something that should be enjoyed? A German may then give you the following nugget of advice, 'Soviel Zeit muss sein.'

Directly translated as “So much time has to be,” this phrase means that some things take time, and that more importantly, one must give time to certain aspects of life or events. One must take time for things that require time. 

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I first heard this phrase when working as a nanny amid a hectic atmosphere. I was rushing around, trying to tend to two crying eight month-old babies as the mother of the children made a Schichttopf, a traditional warm German stew consisting of layers of cabbage, minced meat, and various spices.

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She spent a while cooking, and when she was finally done, I was more concerned with cleaning and preparing the next activity for the fussy babies. She turned to me and said, “Livy, bitte setzt dich und iss mit mir. Soviel Zeit muss sein.” (Livy, please sit down and eat with me. You must take some time.)

I, an American who was more concerned with trying to tick boxes off the to-do list, needed the reminder to take a small break, sit down, and eat a nice meal that took time to prepare. 

There will always be a reason to rush through something, or to hurriedly tick things off your to-do list. This is especially true to an American, who is used to going going going. (I’ve never had a job in which my boss actually expected me to take time out to sit down and enjoy a meal, mid-day!)

In Germany, there is a certain understanding that time must be taken and partitioned out for certain tasks. Daily activities, such as sharing a warm meal on a cold winter day, require time.

Life cannot be hurried through, and time must be endured and given to life. As Ferris Bueller aptly says, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t slow down once in a while you might miss it.” 

READ ALSO: Herbal tea and sick leave: An American's ode to the German attitude towards health

Examples: 

Wenn du dein Deutsch verbessern möchtest, musst du jeden Tag mindestens 30 Minuten lang lernen. Soviel Zeit muss sein!

If you want to improve your German, you must study everyday for at least thirty minutes. It requires time!

Das Training für einen Marathon ist anstrengend und erfordert tägliches Training. Soviel Zeit muss sein!

Training for a marathon is exhausting and requires daily training. It needs time!


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