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GERMAN WORD OF THE DAY

German word of the day: Der Brückentag

Nothing beats making the most of public holidays - and a Brückentag or two can help you do just that.

German word of the day: Der Brückentag
Photo: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash + Nicolas Raymond / flickr

Translating literally as ‘bridge day’ or ‘bridging day’, this word does exactly what it says on the tin: when a public holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, eagle-eyed Germans will smugly book a day off of work on the Monday or Friday, effectively ‘bridging’ the holiday and the weekend.

This tactic gives you a luxurious four days of relaxation, and only costs one annual leave day from your holiday allocation. 

These Brückentage have become deeply ingrained in the German cultural consciousness – they even have a dedicated website, which documents all of the possible regional combinations of public holidays and weekends and, in typical German fashion, gives you an efficiency rating of each combination to show how best to use your holiday time.

Remember to note when the Brückentage fall. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Patrick Pleul

This level of fixation on efficient holiday extensions has developed because of Germany’s irritating rule of not giving employees an extra day off whenever a public holiday falls on a weekend, which this year is the case for a fair few public holidays (such as, ironically, International Workers’ Day on May 1st).

READ ALSO: How you can make the most of Germany’s 2022 public holidays 

The German Left Party (die Linke) have made several bids over the past few years to change this rule, arguing that many other countries (the UK and US included) do offer compensatory extra days off when a public holiday falls on a weekend.

If you’re working in Berlin and were lucky enough to book your Brückentag in time, you might be enjoying Monday off before the regional Women’s Day public holiday on March 8th.

If not, look forward to the bridge days around Easter time in April or May 27th, the Thursday after the nationwide holiday of Ascension Day.

Examples:

Wie willst du deinen Brückentag nächste Woche verbringen?

How do you want to spend your bridge day next week?

Nimmst du sich die Brückentage um Ostern frei?

Are you taking the bridge days off at Easter?

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GERMAN WORD OF THE DAY

German word of the day: Lüften

One of the first lessons you learn when living in Germany is that airing out rooms is extremely important.

German word of the day: Lüften

Whether you sublet, rent a flat or own your home in Germany, it’s likely you’ve been told how important it is to lüften, or open your windows and let air in and out regularly. 

Lüften can be a verb or noun in Germany. As a noun it uses the ‘das’ article and stands for ventilation. The verb lüften means to air out something. It comes from the German word die Luft which means air.

The proper airing out of rooms is a very German thing. Hell, it’s a way of life. 

Just check your rent contract. Foreigners in Germany are often surprised to find that ventilating their homes is usually written into their contract and accompanied by instructions. That means it’s literally legally binding! 

There are very important rules to remember, and German even has a set of vocabulary dedicated to getting fresh air safely in and out the room. 

Words like Stoßlüften – which translates to shock or impact ventilation. This is needed at least twice a day (and more in summer) and involves opening the windows or balcony doors wide to let a ‘shock’ of cold air in. According to experts, you should do this for about five minutes a time in winter, 10-15 minutes each time in autumn and spring, and up to half an hour in summer.

Meanwhile, Querlüften or cross ventilation involves opening all the windows of a house or building and letting the fresh air flow through.

The aim of all this lüften is to stop mould from forming, get rid of smells and to stop rooms from getting too humid. The more people that live in your home, the more airing out you’ll have to do. 

Germans recommend that you turn off your heating while airing out your room (to save on money and to protect the climate) – so be sure to have a big jumper on if you’re airing out in winter. 

READ ALSO: Why Germans are obsessed with the art of airing out a room

Lüften took on a whole new meaning in the pandemic as other countries – or at least those that didn’t have the same culture for airing out – began recommending it to people as a way of helping protect against Covid-19 transmission.  

A good German habit

Lüften can quickly become a habit. Whereas before Germany, I was happy to leave a window tilted open for a while to get some fresh air, I’m now obsessed with the proper way to do it. 

I throw open the windows of my flat wide at regular intervals to get that fresh air circulating, even in the dead of winter. When I’m at home in Scotland or on holiday somewhere else, I do the same thing, which can be alarming to people who think you are trying to freeze them.

I find myself feeling pleased when the neighbours across the road from my Berlin flat open their windows or balcony doors wide. It’s like we’re all part of the secret society of fresh air.

There is nothing now that stands between me and Lüften. When I tweeted about this habit, lots of people said they felt a similar way. 

One Twitter user said: “Been telling my family this for years – as they shiver and complain about how cold it is, and my partner and I passive-aggressively follow each other around shutting and reopening windows. Makes for fun times.”

Another said: “My little sister spent an exchange year in Germany before me and when I visited was thoroughly disturbed by her obsessive window opening. A couple years later I was living in Germany and had become a convert, too.”

Examples: 

Hey Karl, Kannst du bitte dein Zimmer lüften?

Hey Karl, can you please air out your room?

In Deutschland muss man die Zimmer richtig lüften.

You really have to air out rooms the right way in Germany.

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