Christmas Time Notes from Germany

Pension-Sprachschule would like to wish you a Merry Christmas from Hessen, the heart of Germany.

This year, it is a four-and-a-half-day holiday including the weekend and 25 +26 December. Monday, 24 December, our Christmas, is the one that is only half a day. Everything closes at 2pm that day (except gas stations, fast food restaurants, etc.)

F R O H E  W E I H N A C H T E N !

F R O H E  F E I E R T A G E !

Seen in Zeilitzheim in Lower Franconia


New Court Ruling on Consumer Credit Banking Fees in Germany

Yesterday, Germany’s high court ruled that bank charges (Bearbeitungsgebühren) for consumer credits are illegal and may be claimed back from banks if not older than ten years (since 2004). So if you had arranged such a consumer credit (e.g. to purchase a car or an apartment) between 2004 and now, please check your credit contract and if the bank charged you a handling fee/service fee. If so, you may claim it back.

For consumer credits dated 2004, the deadline is by the end of 2014.

In May of this year, a similar ruling determined that banks had to pay back three billion euro in now illegally charged fees. With yesterdays ruling, detailing the beginning time of the credit, when the bank charge was applied, and many other details, the additional payback amounts to another seven billion euro.

The website has much information about the latest ruling, including a sample letter to be sent to the bank and various possible excuses from banks why they try to refuse to pay it back.

Ausrede der Banken

Sample letter:
Musterbrief – Bank

Check your contract carefully to see if the charge was applied at the beginning (one-time payment), distributed over the monthly payments, or charged as a one-time payment at the end. If the time of your credit payment fee matches the new court ruling time frame, send your letter to the bank.

I’ve got one to check myself for the loan we took out in 2007.

German Lesson: die Klönschnackbank

In the fishing village of Maasholm at the Baltic Sea, we found this interesting sample of  northern German culture and language.

The verb klönen stands for to chat and the verb schnacken also means to chat/to shoot the breeze/to chew the fat (AE). The noun Bank in this case stands for bench. Please note the Bier box in the middle. This is a place for chatting, being social, and having some beer with it.

I’d suppose this northern Trinkspruch (toast) has been in use for many years:

“Nich’ lang schnacken, Kopp in Nacken”

[norddeutsch or rather Lower Saxony German]

Don’t talk so much, tilt your head back (to drink).


Too bad it sits on private grounds. 🙂

The Meaning of Pfingsten

Graham, from AllThingsGerman, sent out the following newsletter and because it deals with listening comprehension I found it worth reposting in the language section.

Quoted from the newsletter:

Pfingsten is the weekend known in English as Whitsun or Pentecost. The Sunday and Monday are bank holidays in the whole of Germany. It falls 50 days after Easter.

Pfingsten celebrates the moment when the Holy Ghost descended to Jesus’ disciples, allowing them to be understood by everyone that they talked to. To the listeners they appeared to be speaking in their native language.

If this were the case, then that would make us language teachers redundant today.

The weekend is often used by families to have a longer weekend away. Some parts of Germany have school holidays that start on this weekend.

In my home state of Bavaria, a two-week Pentecost break is just about to begin. On the other hand, Bavaria is one of the 16 states which starts summer break last (usually in early August).

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

No Online banking at Dresdner and Commerzbank at Easter Weekend 2011

Many of you might already know, the Dresdner Bank AG merged with Commerzbank a while ago. To finish the fusion successfully, all IT related programs are going to be combined during Easter Break.

Therefore, Commerzbank will deny access to online banking, cash draft and all other services from April 22 to April 25, 2011 (Good Friday till Easter Monday).

Please make sure you will have enough cash on hand during this time or for your upcoming vacation.  You will be unable to withdraw cash in Europe or abroad from April 22 to April 25.

No EC-card (debit card) use is possible during this period.

A bit more about this Notice of Technical Maintenance is on their website Commerzbank.