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Eight things Germans believe bring good luck

Germans have several ways of bringing good fortune, from breaking things to chimney sweeps. Here's what you can do in Germany to bring yourself as much luck as possible.

Eight things Germans believe bring good luck
A group of chimney sweeps hike up the Brocken mountain on German Unity day last year to bring everyone luck. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Matthias Bein

A lot of superstitions about bad luck in Germany are well-known across the world. From lighting a cigarette with a candle to gifting knives, there are a whole load of possible missteps which might end up cursing you and your friends to years or even decades of bad luck.

But no fear- there are plenty of ways to ensure that you get lucky too. Here’s your eight-step guide to getting lucky according to German tradition. 

READ ALSO: Eight strange superstitions the Germans hold dearly

  • Pigs

One popular German phrase is ‘Schwein haben’ (literally ‘to have a pig’), which means that you got lucky. Similarly, ‘Schwein gehabt’ (literally ‘got pig’) is used as an expression of good fortune along the lines of saying ‘lucky you!’ or ‘lucky me!’. 

It is common to gift friends and family with a marzipan Glückschwein (good luck pig) to mark New Year. 

A German girl with her Sparschwein – or piggy bank. Yes, pigs are lucky. But it’s even luckier to have a pig full of money. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Patrick Pleul

Piggy banks (Sparschweine) are also given to youngsters to encourage them to save (because who doesn’t want a pig full of cash?).

Pigs are considered lucky because of their connection with fertility, successful harvest and thus prosperity. Piglets in particular are seen as portending good fortune. It is thought that this custom might have arisen in the Middle Ages, when to own pigs was a signal of wealth and status. 

READ ALSO: German word of the day: Sau

  • Smashing things

Smashing anything breakable, such as glass, china or ceramic is thought to bring good luck in Germany. Loud crashes and bangs from breaking household objects drive evil spirits out of the house, and are thought to bestow a few years of good fortune to the person who broke them. 

The German saying ‘Scherben bringen Glück’, meaning ‘shards bring luck’, was coined for this situation. Around wedding days, breaking porcelain plates is often a part of the celebration. According to custom, the more shards created by the process, the better luck the couple will have in married life.

This tradition is called Polterabend, and while it used to take place until midnight on the night before the wedding, nowadays it more frequently happens either on the wedding day itself or around a week before.

Ulrike and Martin probably smashed things at the Polterabend just before their wedding. We wonder if it brought them luck and they’re still together. Photo: picture-alliance / dpa | Roland_Witschel

So even if you might not be inclined to lather someone with well-wishes after they’ve just broken your favourite plate, remember to give a shout of ‘Scherben bringen Glück!’ to help them cash in on their years of good luck.

  • Salt

Salt (das Salz) is thought to have the power to bring good luck in Germany. Because of this, it’s seen as lucky to give salt and bread as a housewarming gift, and is thought to mean that the person moving in will never go hungry in their new home. 

It is believed that the superstition arose from a time when salt was a valuable commodity and a symbol of wealth and success. Only the richest and most prosperous could afford it. 

However, don’t think about combining superstitions and spilling your salt. Unfortunately, this will bring you seven years of bad luck.

Pass the salt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Catherine Waibel

In addition, make sure you don’t bring a knife with you to slice the housewarming bread. Giving a knife as a housewarming gift is seen as wishing death on the person you are gifting the present.

READ ALSO: Eight strange Austrian superstitions foreigners should know about

  • Black cats – but only if they’re moving in the right direction
This gorgeous lad is called Arne and he’s at the association Tierschutz Hildesheim und Umgebung e.V, Lower Saxony, if you’d like to check if he’s still available. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Julian Stratenschulte

Although in some countries black cats unequivocally bring bad luck, in Germany the relationship is more complicated. A black cat moving from left to right will bring bad luck, whereas a black cat moving from right to left will bestow good luck on the person whose path it crosses. 

The German saying relating to this superstition is ‘schwarze Katze von rechts nach links, Glück bringt’s’, which means ‘a black cat from right to left brings good luck.’

  • Chimney sweeps 
Consider yourself blessed with luck! Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Matthias Bein

Seeing a chimney sweep (der Schornsteinfeger) is meant to bring good luck in Germany – particularly on New Year’s Day or on your wedding day. This is thought in part to be because traditionally chimney sweeps would collect the fee for their services on the first day of each new year, meaning they were often among the first to wish families a happy new year. 

There’s a lovely story behind the main photo on this story, and the one above. It’s a group of chimney sweeps from Saxony-Anhalt who hiked up the Brocken mountain on the 30th anniversary of German reunification in October 2020. The group of 16 meet once a year and want to bring luck to everyone. 

It is thought to be even luckier if you turn one of the silver buttons on their uniforms, get ash on your face from a chimney sweep or if you see a chimney sweep in the presence of a pig! 

Alongside the marzipan pigs often gifted on New Year, you can also often find little chimney sweeps modelled out of marzipan. 

Befriending a chimney sweep can be seen as having good luck on demand, as inviting a chimney sweep to almost any social event will, according to tradition, ensure that it runs perfectly smoothly.

READ ALSO: Friday the 13th: Eight strange superstitions that the Germans hold dearly

  • Knocking on the pub table

Having a pint in a German pub might seem like a more raucous occasion to you than you’re used to, particularly if you notice your friends knocking their fists against the table as you walk in. However, this tradition isn’t just about greeting your pals and preparing for a fun-filled evening: it’s actually a way of communicating to them that you’re not the devil in disguise. 

Did these friends knock on wood before the Germany played France on June 15th during the Euros? (France won 1-0, sob).

Traditionally, pub or tavern tables were made out of oak because it was seen as a holy tree that the devil was unable to touch. By knocking on the wood (Holz klopfen), the people sitting around the table are able to prove that they haven’t been possessed by the spirit of evil. 

But be sure to make eye contact as you’re clinking glasses in the pub and saying ‘Prost’ (cheers), or according to German superstition you’ll be cursed with seven years of bad sex. 

READ ALSO: Why do Germans make eye contact when they clink glasses?

  • Putting a coin in a new wallet

Gifts are a tricky business according to German superstition, and it’s easy to accidentally slip up and buy something that could leave the recipient silently cursing you for condemning them to years of bad luck.

A wallet is always a versatile gift for a good friend, but one thing to remember is that if you’re buying someone a new wallet for their birthday or Christmas, you should remember to slip a penny or another coin in it for good luck. This should mean that the person you are gifting it to will never be poor.

Everyone wants a bulging wallet. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Fernando Gutierrez-Juarez
  • Hanging up a horseshoe

Before the dawn of technology like social media and text messaging, lovers would send love letters which were delivered by horse and carriage. Waiting for word from their significant others, they would listen out for the telltale sound of horses trotting up to their houses. Finding a horseshoe (das Hufeisen) was actually seen as more lucky and desirable than receiving the letter itself. 

“Good luck! feel free to grab a horseshoe,” tweeted one person after finding a ton of horseshoes last year. 

Traditionally, horseshoes are hung from the front door to bless visitors with good luck, though there are mixed opinions on which way they should be hung. 

It was thought that when a witch saw a horseshoe hanging over a door, she would have to ride every single road touched by that horseshoe, deterring her from bringing wickedness to the house in question.

However, if you do have a lucky horseshoe, you are running the risk of bad luck too – misplacing or losing it is thought to bring bad fortune.

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For members


10 words to help you enjoy the German summer

Summer has arrived in Germany, so we’ve put together a list of ten words to help you navigate the hottest season.

10 words to help you enjoy the German summer

1. (die) Sommersprossen

A close-up of a woman with prominent freckles.

A close-up of a woman with prominent freckles. Photo: pa/obs/myBody / Shutterstock | Irina Bg

The German word for ‘freckles’, translates literally as “summer sprouts”, as these little spots start to appear on many people’s faces as soon as the sun begins to shine in spring and summer.

2. eincremen

A woman applies sun lotion on a summer's day.

A woman applies sun lotion on a summer’s day. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Christin Klose

To help protect against sunburn, it’s important to use a lot of sunscreen during warm summer days in Germany. Thanks to the magic of German separable verbs, there is a specific word for applying creme to the skin – eincremen – which can also be used to talk about applying sun lotion.


Den gesamten Körper vor dem Aufenthalt in der Sonne eincremen

Apply creme to the entire body before sun exposure.

Einmal eincremen reicht nicht, um die Haut einen ganzen Tag lang vor Sonne zu schützen.

It’s not enough to apply sun cream just once to protect the skin from the sun for a whole day.

3. (die) Hundstage

A dog lies exhausted on the stones of a terrace in summer temperatures.

A dog lies exhausted on the stones of a terrace in summer temperatures. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Martin Gerten

‘Dog days’ are colloquially referred to in Europe as the hottest period in summer from July 23rd to August 23rd.

The term ‘dog days’ dates back to the 14th century and was originally associated with the first appearance of the star Sirius of the “Great Dog” constellation. However, due to the changing position of the Earth’s axis, the time period has shifted by about four weeks.

Nevertheless, you’ll still hear people all over Germany referring to the “Hundstage.”

4. eisgekühlt

A glass of mineral water with ice and lemon.

A glass of mineral water with ice and lemon. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Daniel Karmann

There’s nothing better than cooling off with a refreshing, ice-cold drink on a hot summer day, so make sure to use this word at the beach bar to specify that you want your drinks at a near-zero temperature!


Das Kokoswasser schmeckt am besten eisgekühlt.

The coconut water tastes best ice-cold.

5. (die) Waldbrandstufe

A sign on a forest path indicates forest fire level five.

A sign on a forest path indicates forest fire level five. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-centralpicture | Soeren Stache

The Waldbrandstufe – meaning forest fire level – is a warning system that has been used in all German states since 2014 to indicate the level of forest fire risk, based on the local heat and dryness levels.

Level 1 stands for very low fire risk in forests and level 5 for very high risk. When the Stufe (level) is above 3 or 4, certain measures – such as banning barbecues – will come into force locally.

You will often see the Waldbrandstufe sign in woodland areas, near beaches, or on weather reports over the summer.


Lagerfeuer werden aufgrund der hohen Waldbrandstufe nicht geduldet.
Due to the danger of forest fires campfires will not be tolerated.

6. (der) Strandkorb

Beach chairs stand in sunny weather on the beach in the Baltic resort of Binz on the island of Rügen.

Beach chairs on the beach in the Baltic resort of Binz on the island of Rügen. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Stefan Sauer

The “Strandkorb”, literally meaning beach basket, is a special type of beach chair that you will find on almost every German beach. The traditional beach chair was invented in 1882 by German basket maker Wilhelm Bartelmann in Rostock.


Hier kannst du in der Ostsee baden oder dich in einem Strandkorb entspannen.

Here you can swim in the Baltic Sea or relax in a beach chair.

7. (die) Radtour

A man and a woman cycle through Lüneburg Heath.

A man and a woman cycle through Lüneburg Heath. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/HeideRegion Uelzen e.V. | Jürgen Clauß, HeideRegion Uelz

Germans love biking, so it’s no surprise that a specific word exists for the summer phenomenon of going on a Radtour – bike tour.

READ ALSO: 10 things to consider for a bike trip in Germany


Der gesamte Rundweg ist eine leichte Radtour.
The entire circular route is an easy bike ride.

8. Sonne tanken

A man on an air mattress sunbathing on a lake while a model boat passes him by.

A man on an air mattress sunbathing on a lake while a model boat passes him by. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Thomas Warnack

If you love summer, then you probably like to lie in the sun and soak up the rays. In German, you would call this “Sonne tanken” – literally to fuel up on sun.


Ich will einfach nur Sonne tanken!

I just want to soak up the sun!

9. (die) Sommergewitter

Lightning striking in the Hanover region in June 2021.

Lightning striking in the Hanover region in June 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Julian Stratenschulte

Another very specific word, this term is used to describe the phenomenon of summer thunderstorms.


Die ersten Sommergewitter rollen quer durch Deutschland.

The first summer thunderstorms are rolling across Germany.

10. (die) Eisdiele

A scoop of strawberry ice cream is placed on top of another scoop in a waffle cone at the "Eiskultur" ice cream parlor in Schöneweide.

A scoop of strawberry ice cream is placed on top of another scoop in a waffle cone at the “Eiskultur” ice cream parlor in Schöneweide. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jens Kalaene

Finally, no summer would be complete without a generous helping of ice cream. In German, the most common name for an ice-creme parlour is “Eisdiele”. 

The word seems to have joined the German language when the very first ice-creme parlour was opened in Hamburg in 1799.

READ ALSO: Spaghetti ice cream to Wobbly Peter: Why we love Germany’s sweet summer snacks


Es gibt eine sehr gute Eisdiele an der Promenade.

There is a really good ice-creme parlour on the promenade.