German Term for the Day: die Katzenwäsche

Cats regularly clean themselves throughout the day. Right now, we are in the middle of a drought (die Dürre), and need to preserve water. Hence, live more like a cat.

Katzenwäsche

Besides the daily shower, I had taken extra ones throughout the day, but the City of Oberursel sent out a notification to ask us to preserve water for the coming days/weeks.

This means, I still get to take my daily shower, but during the other times of the day, I have to contend with a Katzenwäsche.

Definition: kurzes, oberflächliches Waschen (a short and perfunctory washing of the body)

Beispiel: Ich bin spät dran für die Arbeit. Ich habe keine Zeit für eine Dusche. Ich mache eine schnelle Katzenwäsche.

German Ice Cream Dish: das Spaghettieis

With sunny weather approaching, you might want to treat yourself and your child/children to one of Germany’s most popular desserts: Spagetthieis  [ʃpaˈɡɛtiˌaɪs]

Do it yourself: Pile some whipped cream onto a plate. Squeeze vanilla ice cream through a Spaetzle Press, completely covering the whipped cream. Then top with your favorite strawberry dessert sauce.
Add coconut flakes, blanched slivered almonds, or white chocolate shavings to simulate Parmesan cheese.
Almost every ice-cream parlor (Eiscafé) serves this. Guten Appetit!

German Terms of the Day: die Steuern und Abgaben

Newcomers often mention Germany’s high prices when it comes to labor costs and products. One one hand, some employees enjoy good benefits, and let’s not forget the many kinds of taxes employers in Germany have to pay.

Let’s take a pub owner and the list of applicable taxes and shares he has to pay:

  • Schankerlaubnis (public entertainment license), Getränkesteuer (alcoholic beverage tax), Vergnügungssteuer (entertainment tax), Mehrwertsteuer (value-added tax or VAT), Einkommenssteuer (income tax), Vermögenssteuer (property tax/personal tax), Grundvermögenssteuer (immovable property tax), Gewerbekapitalsteuer (trade capital tax), Gewerbeertragssteuer (tax on profits), Lohnsteuer (payroll tax), Lohnnebenkosten (nonwage labor costs), Hundesteuer (dog license fee), Kapitalertragssteuer (capital returns tax);

 

  • Add the employer’s obligatory share of his employees’ Krankenversicherung (health insurance), Pflegeversicherung (long term care insurance), Berufsgenossenschaft (employers’ liability insurance coverage), Familienausgleichskasse (family compensation fund), Invalidenversicherung (disability insurance), Angestelltenversicherung (employees’ insurance), Arbeitslosenversicherung (unemployment insurance), Lebensversicherung (life insurance);

 

  • Feuerversicherung (fire insurance), Einbruchsversicherung (burglary insurance), Unfallversicherung (accident insurance), Haftpflichtversicherung (liability insurance), Solidaritätszuschlag (solidarity tax), Rechtsschutzversicherung (legal protection insurance), Industrie-und Handelskammer (chamber of industry and commerce);

 

  • The owner also has to pay his monthly expenses for Gas (gas heating),  Wasser (water), Elektrizität (electricity), Heizung (heating), Müllabfuhr (garbage collection), Schornsteinfeger (chimney sweep), Telefon (phone charges), Zeitungen (newspaper subscriptions), Zeitschriften (magazines), Radio- und Fernsehengebühren (quarterly payment for radio and television licensing fees), Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte or GEMA (performing rights society), etc.

I had read somewhere that a village pub about 30kms north of here had to close its doors. Paying a monthly fee of euro 700, so his guests could watch sport shows, was no longer feasible.

If you have a dog, you also have to pay the Hundesteuer (dog license fee).

I believe we all should pay our tax with a smile. 

I tried, but they wanted cash.

What Germans Traditionally eat on New Year’s Day

Traditionally, we eat pork (simmered pork knuckle, Bratwurst, or smoked pork chops) and Sauerkraut on New Year’s Day. Eating Sauerkraut is especially important, as it promises a financially good new year.

Eisbein

In some rural areas, you might also find the Eierring or Eierweck on the kitchen table. Many years ago, families had to pre-order the Eierring days in advance to make sure to get one. Fewer and fewer bakeries sell these nowadays, as demand has gone down for this traditional form of bread. The Eierring, with its round shape, is similar to the horse shoe, another good luck charm.

Eierring in Franconia (northern Bavaria)

Growing up, I remember having the Eierring on New Year’s Eve (while it is still fresh) and mulled wine. Whatever was left, we had on New Year’s Day as it was supposed to be.

Same with the pork and Kraut – we had it for dinner this evening, and will have the remainder tomorrow, on New Year’s Day as it is meant to be.

Have a great New Year’s Eve, wherever you are!

German Word of the Day: die Weihnachtsgurke (Christmas Pickle)

A very long time ago, the Christmas tree was originally decorated with nuts and fruits. Then came the shiny stuff (Lametta, Weihnachtskugeln, Sterne).

Another supposedly German tradition says to hang a pickle onto the tree. Yes, a pickle. The lucky finder will get an extra present. The first time I heard of this tradition was about 10 years ago. It could be an American tradition with German roots.

I had hidden our pickle so well (out of sight, out of mind), I completely forgot to have my family search for it on Christmas Eve.

Weihnachtsgurke (Christmas Pickle)

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