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GERMAN LANGUAGE

German words you need to know: Das Feierabendbierchen

Not just a beautiful example of a compound noun, this word evokes a strong image of a tradition of the German way of life which has been hit by the pandemic.

German words you need to know: Das Feierabendbierchen
Just a little (or large) after-work beer, as seen in Munich recently. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

Das Feierabendbierchen (literally a “party-evening-little-beer”, but more accurately: a “cheeky wee post-work beer”) is the drink you have after leaving the office to wash away the stress and adrenaline of the working day. For most Germans this falls at about 5pm, but a Feierabendbier can be had at any time of the day really. 

This word can be found in non-diminutive form (Feierabendbier) or the diminutive form with -chen, as above, which basically makes it a bit more playful. 

This compound noun may be made up of both “Abend” and “Feier”, but there is no need for the consumption of the Feierabendbierchen to take place either in the evening or at a party. 

The word ‘Feierabend’ usually just refers to the part of the day when work is finished, capturing the ecstatic feeling of escaping a stuffy office and emerging into a free evening with limitless possibilities. 

Recently, the term has come to be regarded as a buzzword for the importance of a work-life balance, of maintaining harmony between the regimented hours of the working day and the rest and relaxation necessary to maintain productivity.

READ MORE: Why every country should get on board with the German Feierabend

But this work-life balance has been notoriously difficult to maintain in over a year of successive lockdowns, particularly when there is no physical shift between workplace and home for many people.

It is difficult to imagine that the Feierabendbierchen was not affected by this change as we became confined to our own four walls with family or a close social bubble only, especially as pubs and bars only reopened last month.

Research has shown that, in keeping with the overall decline in per capita alcohol consumption in Germany since the start of the pandemic, beer sales were particularly hit during the lockdown months. Sales of beer fell by 5.4 percent in 2020 – the largest decline in a decade – meaning that individual consumption had decreased on average by approximately 5 litres.

This is a large deal for a country with over 1,200 breweries, 5,000 beer brands and a flourishing brewing industry generating revenues of almost 8 billion Euros, and suggests that fewer Germans are indulging in Feierabendbier than ever.

READ MORE: Why German Beer Day is celebrated in April 23rd

However, since the start of July, working from home is no longer compulsory in Germany, and employers are free to decide whether to call their employees back to the workplace. 

As Germans transition from Homeoffice back to their workplace, perhaps the Feierabendbierchen is bouncing back -or people are at least able to meet one or two of their colleagues again.

We hope that the tradition will have recovered in time for this Friday – August 6th – so that Germans can celebrate the end of work on International Beer Day with a festive pint. 

via GIPHY

Examples:

Was machst du nach der Arbeit? Hast du Lust auf ein Feierabendbier? 

What are you doing after work? Do you fancy an off-work beer? 

Am Ende eines langen, schwierigen Tages schmeckt das verdiente Feierabendbierchen fast doppelt so gut. 

At the end of a long, hard day, your well-earned beer after work tastes almost twice as good.

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GERMAN WORD OF THE DAY

German word of the day: Kneipe

This is a spot you might visit at the end of the working day - or Feierabend.

German word of the day: Kneipe

Why do I need to know Kneipe?

Because you may be invited to one or need to find one on the map. 

What does it mean?

Die Kniepe, which sounds like this, is the name for a pub in German where people gather to drink beverages. This isn’t a fancy cocktail bar – it’s a neighbourhood watering hole, and forms part of the make-up of towns and cities across Germany. It’s usually unpretentious, often small and in some places – like Berlin – it can be smoky. In that case, you might see a a Raucherkneipe (smoking pub) sign on the door or window. 

The word has been around since the 18th century and is an abbreviation of Kneipschenke. A Kneipschenke was a super-cramped premise where guests had to pack in and sit squeezed together.

The noun Schenke is a tavern, while Kneipe is said to come from the verb kneipen meaning “to press together” or “be close together”, which has been documented in Middle German and is a loanword from the Middle Low German word knīpen. That word is related to High German’s kneifen, which means “to pinch”. 

Kneipen don’t always have the best reputation. You might also get some suspicious looks if you crash a very local Kneipe that is used to only serving regulars or Stammgäste. But they are usually friendly and charming, and give an insight into life in Germany. So perhaps ask your German friends for a tip on a cool Kneipe to visit. Just don’t expect the staff to speak English like you usually find in hipster bars! 

If you’re hungry, keep in mind that Kneipen usually don’t serve food. Pubs that do serve hot food are more likely to be called a Wirtschaft or Lokal.

You can also do a pub crawl (eine Kneipentour machen) if you can handle the amount of booze (or switch to non-alcoholic drinks). 

How to use it:

Treffen wir uns am Freitag nach Feierabend in der Kneipe.

Let’s meet in the pub on Friday after work finishes.

Ich gehe mit den Jungs in die Kneipe.

I’m going to the pub with the lads.

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