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The Easter Holidays in German

In a previous Yabla lesson, we discussed Easter traditions in Germany. Today, let's talk about the German names of the main Easter holidays. Easter, a Christian commemoration of the resurrection of Christ, is called Ostern in German. It's a neuter noun, but is usually written and spoken without a definite or indefinite article, in the same way that we don't usually say "the Easter" or "an Easter" in English.


Easter is a week-long religious celebration with major and minor days of celebration. This week is called Karwoche ("Holy Week"). The term has nothing to do with automobiles, but stems rather from the now-obsolete 17th-century German word kara, which means "grief, sorrow, or lamentation." The first major day of celebration is Palm Sunday:


Am Palmsonntag steht eine große Messe auf dem Programm.

On Palm Sunday, a large mass is on the schedule.

Captions 9-10, Papst Franziskus: Der neue Papst hat viel zu tun

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The next four Easter days are not celebrated and not official holidays in Germany: Ostermontag, Osterdienstag, and Ostermittwoch (Easter Monday, Easter Tuesday, and Easter Wednesday). Maundy Thursday, also commonly called Holy Thursday, commemorates the Last Supper of Christ: Gründonnerstag, literally "Green Thursday." This day is not an official holiday in Germany, so Cettina and Sabine can still go out dancing without fear of Tanzverbot:


Da wir heute erst Gründonnerstag haben, gehen wir jetzt eine Runde tanzen und verabschieden uns von euch.

Since it's only Holy Thursday, we'll now go dance a bit and say goodbye to you.

Captions 71-72, Cettina und Sabine: Ostern

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The next Easter day is an official holiday in Germany, Karfreitag or Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion of Christ.


Der Karfreitag ist ein Fasten- und Abstinenztag.

Good Friday is a day of fasting and abstinence.

Caption 65, Cettina und Sabine: Ostern

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The next day, Holy Saturday, is called Karsamstag in German, and is meant in Christian theology to mark the descent of Christ into Hell. It is not an official holiday in Germany either.


The last day of Easter is the most important: Easter Sunday, called Ostersonntag or simply Ostern. This is when, according to Christian belief, Christ was resurrected from the dead. It's surprisingly not an official holiday in Germany (except for Brandenburg), because most shops are closed and most people don't go to work on Sundays anyway. Official work-free holidays are decided in Germany on the state rather than national level.


Der Ostersonntag gehört zu den Höhepunkten der Osterfeierlichkeiten bei den Katholiken.

Easter Sunday is one of the highlights of Easter celebrations among Catholics.

Captions 16-17, Papst Franziskus: Der neue Papst hat viel zu tun

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The day after Easter is an official holiday in Germany and is commonly called Ostermontag, although the religious Easter Monday took place the week before.


Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and watch Cettina und Sabine: Ostern and Ostern mit Eva to get a full overview of the Easter holidays in Germany. Happy holidays from Yabla!

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Delays and Cancellations

In the last weeks, many aspects of our daily lives have been uprooted as we all do our part to keep COVID-19 from spreading. Even those who are not directly affected or immediately at risk are advised to lay low in order to keep themselves and others safe. Large gatherings such as conferences and concerts have been canceled or postponed in the interest of public safety, and smaller events and meetings should be canceled as well.


We at Yabla wish you and your loved ones all the best during these uncertain times. Exercising caution, remaining calm, and gathering knowledge are all important strategies. For those of you who might be dealing with practical aspects of the situation in German, we will use this week's lesson to go over the various words for "to cancel" and "to postpone." If you aren't getting news updates about the situation in Germany and would like to be, check out the links posted under "Further Learning" below. 

There are many ways to say "to cancel" in German, but here are the most common verbs used to refer to events, appointments, and plans:


Heute ist Dienstag. Wir hatten eigentlich unseren Flug für heute zurück gebucht, aber es ist immer noch alles storniert.

Today is Tuesday. We had actually booked our flight back for today, but everything is still canceled.

Captions 6-7, Reisen: während des Vulkanausbruchs

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Letztes Jahr wurde ein Event abgesagt.

Last year an event was called off.

Caption 29, Traumberuf: Windsurfer

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Die eigentlich mittwochs stattfindende Generalaudienz fällt diesmal aus.

The general audience, which normally takes place Wednesdays, is canceled this time.

Captions 5-7, Papst Franziskus: Der neue Papst hat viel zu tun

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When it comes to events or meetings being postponed, the common verb is verschieben, which has a number of meanings related to "to shift." 


Es ist eine wundervolle Sache, denn du kannst die Dinge, die du heute tun solltest, nehmen und nach morgen verschieben.

It is a wonderful thing, because you can take the things that you should do today and postpone them till tomorrow.

Captions 24-26, Lektionen: Morgen

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Wir haben die Tour verschobenweil ich mit dem Album noch nicht fertig geworden bin [sic, fertig geworden war].

We pushed the tour back, because I still wasn't finished with the album.

Captions 58-59, Clueso: ist endlich erwachsen

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Further Learning
You can find more examples of these verbs on Yabla German. If you would like to work on your listening comprehension by means of a daily news briefing, try listening to Deutsche Welle's Langsam gesprochene Nachrichtenwhich is made especially for German learners. If you would like to learn about how the situation is unfolding in Germany, you may find Der Spiegel to be a good resource for articles in English as well as German.


Easter Traditions in Germany

Although Easter has been a predominantly Christian holiday in Germany for the last millennia, a number of originally pagan-based traditions still survive. Let's talk about some German Easter traditions and find some examples of the words in other contexts on Yabla.


Although largely supplanted by the Easter Bunny (Osterhase), some regions still imagine different animals delivering the eggs. In parts of North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony, the eggs are still brought by the Easter Fox (Osterfuchs). Parts of Saxony have the tradition of the Easter Rooster (Osterhahn), and Thuringia still has the Easter Stork (Osterstorch).


Oder die meisten denken, es wär' irgendwie Hase oder Fuchs.

Or most of them think it's somehow rabbit or fox.

Caption 12, Queensberry - gegen Pelz

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In much the same way as the pagan tradition of the decorated tree came to be associated with Christmas, the Easter Egg Tree (Ostereierbaum) is also a popular tradition still in Germany and Scandinavia. Branches are gathered from outside and decorated with colored eggs.


Da hat der für Eier keine Zeit!

He has no time for eggs there!

Caption 56, Welt-Pi-Tag - Unser Leben mit der Kreiszahl

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A favorite cake made during the Easter Holidays is called the "Easter Lamb," or Osterlamm, and is baked in the shape of a reclining lamb.


Die ist ihnen nachgelaufen wie ein Lamm.

She ran after them like a lamb.

Caption 20, Für Tierfreunde - Przewalski-Wildpferde

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Easter is also a convenient way to remember in German when to put on or remove the snow tires from your car:


Von O. bis O., also von Oktober bis Ostern,

From O. to O. [E.], so from October to Easter

sollte man mit Winterreifen fahren.

you should drive with winter tires.

Captions 4-5, Winterreifen - Wenn der erste Schnee naht

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Außerdem steht das Osterfest kurz bevor.

Aside from that, the Easter celebration is approaching.

Caption 4, Papst Franziskus - Der neue Papst hat viel zu tun

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Happy Easter holidays to all of you from all of us at Yabla!



Further Learning
Look on Yabla German for other examples of some of the bold-faced words above being used in different contexts.