TGIF Chronicles: Viel Glück!

How much do you know about luck and traditions in Germany? While I’m taking a German language test throughout the day this Friday, take this quiz (with 7 lucky questions) about German superstitions to wish me & the gang from class some luck!

1. Which of these animals is not a good luck symbol?
a) Ladybug – Fly away home!
b) Cat – Loveable, but so sassy
c) Pig – Oink!

2. Which of these foods brings good luck?
a) Mushrooms – Wait, can I eat this?
b) Currants – Little red berries with a sour flavor
c) Pretzels – Salty and twisted

3. Which of these people is a bearer of good luck?
a) Mayor – He or she has an awesome title in German: the Bürgermeister
b) Chimney sweep – If that guy doesn’t come, you might have big problems ahead
c) Firefighter – These folks save lives

4. What is the English translation for an unlucky person (i.e. a “walking disaster”)?
a) Bad luck devil – Sounds super bad
b) Bad luck rabbit – Hopping all over the place
c) Bad luck bird – Tweet, tweet!

5. What is considered bad luck when clinking glasses in a toast?
a) Not maintaining eye contact with the person you’re clinking with – Look at me!
b) Crossing your arm over someone else’s in a group – Hey, I’m clinking here!
c) Both a and b – Wow, this is one focused toast

6. What do friends and family do to wish luck and happiness to a couple about to be married?
a) Break a lot of porcelain – Um, thanks a lot.
b) Give mirrors as gifts – Just what I wanted to see.
c) Carve their names in wood – It’s all about us.

7. What is considered a typical German housewarming gift for bringing good wishes?
a) Flowers and chocolate – How thoughtful!
b) Beer and bratwurst – Now it’s a party!
c) Bread and salt – Get me a glass of water!

 

 

Marienkäfer - lucky ladybugs
Marienkäfer – (lucky) ladybugs
Lucky marzipan pigs and chimney sweeps from New Year's
Lucky marzipan pigs and chimney sweeps from New Year’s

Answers:

1. b) Cat. The black cat is even considered bad luck, like in the U.S. and many other countries. Many good luck cards (and houseplants, desserts, etc.) are decorated with ladybugs and four-leafed clovers. Piggy banks are quite popular – and lucky – here.

2. a) Mushrooms?! In fact, a perpetually lucky person is called a Glückpilz, or lucky mushroom.

3. b) Chimney sweep. Chim chiminey chim chiminey chim chim cheree. It’s common practice to touch a chimney sweep, who visits every home and apartment regardless of whether it has a chimney or not. The modern Shornsteinfeger is more of a maintenance/heating repairman.

4. c) Bad luck bird. It’s bad news if you’re a Pechvogel, or bad luck bird. Unrelated but also interesting – a Putzteufel, or cleaning devil, is someone obsessed with cleanliness and an Angsthase, or anxious hare, is a “scaredy cat.”

5. c) Both a and b. Keep eye contact and don’t cross over someone else – These are both absolutely essential when toasting with drinks. Prost!/Cheers!

6. a) Break a lot of porcelain. Polterabend is a pre-wedding party where guests bring and break porcelain items to wish the happy couple good luck. The bride- and groom-to-be must then clean up the mess, accomplishing their first of many difficult tasks as a team. Note that breaking mirrors, of course, brings seven years of bad luck.

7. c) Bread and salt. With bread and salt you can never go hungry. These two basic foods are traditionally given to wish people happiness and good fortune in their new home.

 

Viel Glück und Viel Erfolg!/Good luck and much success!

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