seasons in german

Prost! Seasons in German: The Vocabulary, Culture and Climates You Need to Know

Pepper, chili powder, Italian herbs, tamarind, salt and ginger.

Do you know what these seasonings have in common?

You can use them all year round! And just like the seasons we all experience, they come and go in our lives. With each season(ing), we create and relive memories.

Better yet, we pass the time by these seasons. And even though we must say goodbye to one season to introduce the next, there’s always something to celebrate.

Don’t believe me? I’ll show you!

Keep reading to learn all about the seasons in German, their culture and how you, too, can partake in seasonal celebrations.

Let the festivities begin!

Why Learning the Seasons in German Is Important

Seasons occur in Germany just as they do everywhere else in the world.

For some of you, the seasons in Germany may mirror the seasons you experience, occurring in the same months and/or around the same time of year. But that’s not always the case.

Knowing when to travel to Germany—and during which seasons—is extremely helpful knowledge as well.

From popular cultural celebrations to hazardous travel conditions, traversing the German landscape at various times of the year can be hectic. Be prepared and know when you should visit, depending on what you prefer to see and experience.

An increase in your knowledge of German culture, history and traditions comes with learning about the seasons as well.

Germans incorporate the environment around them into their daily lives as much as any other culture. Understanding these connections will allow you to get an inside look into the daily lives of the German people.

And finally, adding the seasons and surrounding knowledge to your German vocabulary brings you one step closer to fluency.

Imagine being able to speak about the weather and not feeling awkward about it!

Seasonal German Vocabulary You Should Know All Year Long

We’ll tackle more specific vocabulary in the next section, but here are some terms you should add to your daily vocab practice:

  • die Jahreszeit (season)
  • das Klima (climate)
  • das Wetter (weather)
  • der Regen (rain)
  • das Gewitter (storm)
  • der Blitz (lightning)
  • der Donner (thunder)
  • der Schnee (snow)
  • der Nebel (fog)
  • das Sonnenlicht (sunlight)
  • der Wind (wind)
  • bewölkt (cloudy)

Try and use one or two words each day to describe the weather outside.

Seasons in German: The Vocabulary, Culture and Climates You Need to Know

Whether there are three feet of snow on the ground or the temperature reaches over 100 degrees, there’s always something to do to celebrate the seasons.

Here’s your list of German seasonal celebrations!

Spring (der Frühling)

seasons in german

Though Spring might not always be the first season of the year, it’s nice to look forward to blooming flowers (die blühenden Blumen), chirping birds (die zwitschernden Vögel), green landscapes (die grünen Landschaften) and plenty of baby creatures that see the world for the first time.

Spring, or Frühling, brings with it expressions like spring fever (die Frühlingsgefühle), spring cleaning (der Frühjahrsputz) and so much more.

Temperatures in Germany in the Spring favor that middle ground between not-quite-winter and not-warm-enough-to-be-summer. Expect the mercury to stay above freezing most of the time.

Anything higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit is unusual as well. Speaking of which, Germans measure temperature in Celsius. Keep that in mind as you read weather reports.

As for appropriate clothing, you’ll likely want to wear a light jacket out. Layers work, too.

As far as celebrations go, there are plenty in springtime.

One of the most popular—and not just in Germany—is Mardi Gras.

Known as Karneval, Fasching or Fastnacht (depending on where you’re from in Germany), Mardi Gras typically falls in February and lasts until early March.

Ostern, or das Osterfest (Easter), draws quite a crowd as well. While that celebration occurs in mid-April, Der Erste Mai or Tag der Arbeit (Labor Day/May Day) happens on May 1.

As is typical for the season, these celebrations focus on new beginnings, a fresh start and a positive outlook.

Summer (der Sommer)

seasons in german

Continuing the revelry, Summer in Germany means spending much time outdoors and with family and friends.

Like Americans, Germans take advantage of the warm weather to travel (reisen) to neighboring countries, explore (erkunden) places they’ve never been and visit loved ones abroad (im Ausland).

You can expect a humid heat in the German summer. Rain still falls, even though the chilly breeze of Spring has given way to warm summer nights.

As you may expect, Germans drink quite a lot of beer in the summer. That is, at least more publicly.

The International Berlin Beer Festival lands smack dab in the middle of one of the hottest months of the year—August. Music festivals (die Musiktage) fill up June, July and August. And the Bach Festival, or Bachfest, is a popular event to attend in June.

Another popular pastime in the Summer months is traveling.

We mentioned Germans journeying away from their homeland (die Heimat), but thousands of foreigners enter Germany in the summer as well. In fact, May through September is typically considered the tourist season, or die Reisezeit.

It’s the time when conditions are optimal for seeing the countryside, drinking beer and reveling in enormous tents and trekking over cobblestone roads in the heart of Germany.

Fall/Autumn (der Herbst)

seasons in german

Most people, if they don’t make it to Germany in the summer, pack their bags for one of the most well-known German celebrations in late fall.

You guessed it: Oktoberfest.

But before we plunge our noses into the foamy mugs of this joyous occasion, take notes, especially if you’re planning on traveling to Germany in the Fall. Because opposite of Spring, temperatures in Fall drop down from balmy temperatures to colder weather.

Layer up again, with an eye towards adding clothing rather than removing it.

Clothing is part-and-parcel a facet of Oktoberfest, besides the beer, of course.

Much more than a giant drinking celebration—though that’s what it’s mostly known for—Oktoberfest rejoices in all that is German, or more specifically, all things Bavarian (a large, southern-most region in Germany)—traditional outfits (die Lederhosen for the men and die Dirndl for the women) and practices to the timeless desire to come together and simply enjoy each other’s company.

Like Oktoberfest, which runs through September into the first week of October, Stadtfest, or city festival, happens in the month of September as well.

Each city puts on its own set of festivities, including live music, street performers and so much more. In many ways, it’s a way to showcase the residents of the city, highlighting their skills and accomplishments with pride.

Special to German nationality, Tag der Deutschen Einheit, or German Unity Day, is extremely important as well.

On October 3, 1990, East and West Germany reunited (die Wiedervereinigung) and each year, Germans celebrate this day to remember merging into a unified country.

They may not light up fireworks like we do in the United States, but the feeling of pride and respect for one’s country is mirrored in this celebration.

Winter (der Winter)

seasons in german

When people think of Germany, there are a few standard celebrations and pastimes that come to mind. One of them that pops up frequently is skiing in the Alps.

But even though there’s plenty of powder in die Alpen, German winters aren’t actually too bad.

Just as rain falls frequently in the summer, Germans plan for much snowfall in the winter. This humidity, though, keeps temperatures above 20 degrees Fahrenheit—or negative six degrees Celsius.

Since snow falls quite often in the winter months, Germans tend to spend more time indoors with family and friends. In fact, it’s a great time for parties and gatherings.

After bundling up in a winter coat (der Wintermantel), gloves (die Handschuhe), a scarf (das Halstuch), boots (die Stiefel) and a warm hat (die Mütze), you’ll want to spend time chatting (plaudern), playing games (Spiele spielen) and enjoying life with those you care about most.

And if you’re out there in the Christmas markets looking for presents (die Geschenke), there are plenty of drinks (die Getränke) to stoke the embers inside your belly, too.

Speaking of December 25, Germans celebrate Christmas on the same day many Americans do, but perhaps not always in the same fashion.

But before Kris Kringle—or, der Weihnachstmann—visits, Germans celebrate St. Nicholas Day (Nikolaustag) on December 5.

St. Nicholas isn’t Santa Claus, but he does leave treats in the shoes of young children—if they’ve been good. Like the advent calendars sold in many global markets, St. Nicholas is there to remind children to be on their best behavior.

And in the spirit of beginning again and heralding in the new year, Germans celebrate Silvester, or New Year’s Eve, on the last day of the year.

Because just like the seasons, the days and weeks turn into months and years, bringing with them new opportunities, adventures and challenges. We may not be able to stop time, but we can certainly enjoy it.

 

No matter where you live or what season it currently is, you can always celebrate your environment.

Consider adding some of these seasonal traditions to your yearly celebrations. Because when you least expect it, the seasons will change—and there’ll be a new celebration waiting!


Rebecca Henderson holds a degree in German and Creative Writing. She’s the editor behind The Kreativ Space and hopes to shift your world perspective through her words, because looking out the same window every day hardly makes for an interesting life.

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