Seasons in German: The Vocabulary, Culture and Climates You Need to Know
Each year, the seasons come and go, along with the holidays, events and memories associated with them.
While the passage of time can be bittersweet, it also means that there’s always something to celebrate.
Keep reading to learn the seasons in German, as well as seasonal German culture and how you can partake in the celebrations, too.
Let the festivities begin!
- Spring ( der Frühling )
- Summer ( der Sommer )
- Fall ( der Herbst )
- Winter ( der Winter )
- Seasonal German Vocabulary You Should Know All Year Long
- Why Learning the Seasons in German Is Important
Spring ( der Frühling )
Though spring might not be the first season of the year, it’s nice to look forward to die blühenden Blumen (the blooming flowers), die zwitschernden Vögel (the chirping birds), die grünen Landschaften (the green landscapes) and baby creatures seeing the world for the first time.
Spring also brings with it expressions like die Frühlingsgefühle (spring fever) and der Frühjahrsputz (spring cleaning).
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, though.
Anything higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit/21 degrees Celsius is unusual. Speaking of which, German-speaking countries measure temperature in Celsius, so keep that in mind as you read weather reports.
As for appropriate clothing, you’ll likely want to wear a light jacket while out and about. 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 in western Germany, Fasching in Austria and eastern/southern parts of Germany and Fastnacht in select German states and Switzerland, 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 (May Day/Labor 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 )
Continuing the revelry, summer in Germany means spending much time outdoors with family and friends.
Like Americans, Germans take advantage of the warm weather to reisen (travel) to neighboring countries, erkunden (explore) places they’ve never been and visit loved ones im Ausland (abroad).
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.
Traditional music festivals, called die Musiktage , fill up June, July and August Das Bachfest (the Bach Festival) is a popular event to attend in June.
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.
Another popular pastime in the summer months is traveling. We mentioned Germans journeying away from die Heimat (the home country), but thousands of foreigners enter Germany in the summer as well.
In fact, May through September is typically considered die Reisezeit (the travel season). Conditions are optimal for seeing the countryside, drinking beer, reveling in enormous tents and trekking over cobblestone roads in the heart of Germany.
Fall ( der Herbst )
If they don’t make it to Germany in the summer, many people will pack their bags for one of the most well-known German celebrations in late fall.
You guessed it: Das Oktoberfest.
Before indulging in the foamy mugs of this joyous occasion, take notes on traveling to Germany in the fall. As the 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 (the large, southern-most region of Germany)—including traditional outfits ( die Lederhosen for the men and die Dirndl for the women) and the timeless desire to come together and enjoy each other’s company.
Like Oktoberfest, which runs through September into the first week of October, Das Stadtfest , or “the 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 more. It’s a way to showcase the residents of the city, highlighting their skills and accomplishments with pride.
Specific to Germany, Tag der Deutschen Einheit (German Unity Day), is extremely important as well. On October 3, 1990, East and West Germany reunited ( die Wiedervereinigung ), adding an important German holiday to this day.
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 )
When people think of Germany, there are a few standard celebrations and pastimes that come to mind. One that pops up frequently: 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. The humidity, though, keeps temperatures above 20 degrees Fahrenheit/-6 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 der Wintermantel (the winter coat), die Handschuhe (the gloves), der Schal (the scarf), die Stiefel (the boots) and popping on die Mütze (the hat), you’ll want to spend time plaudern (chatting), Spiele spielen (playing games) and enjoying life with those you care about most.
And if you’re out in the Christmas markets looking for die Geschenke (the presents), there are plenty of die Getränke (the drinks) to stoke the embers inside your belly, too.
Speaking of December 25, Germans celebrate Christmas on the same day many Americans do, but not always in the same fashion. Before Kris Kringle—or, der Weihnachtsmann —visits, Germans celebrate Nikolaustag (St. Nicholas Day) on December 6th.
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 (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.
Seasonal German Vocabulary You Should Know All Year Long
Here are some general terms you should add to your daily German vocab practice:
- die Jahreszeit (the season)
- das Klima (the climate)
- das Wetter (the weather)
- der Regen (the rain)
- das Gewitter (the storm)
- der Blitz (the lightning)
- der Donner (the thunder)
- der Schnee (the snow)
- der Nebel (the fog)
- das Sonnenlicht (the sunlight)
- der Wind (the wind)
- bewölkt (the cloudy)
Try and use one or two words each day to describe the weather outside so you can practice your new vocabulary!
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.
Of course, if you learn about the seasons, the weather and other topics in context, you’ll automatically gain more understanding of German culture—especially when you’re watching and listening to native German speakers.
No matter where you live or what season it currently is, you can always celebrate your environment—and now you know more about how Germans do that, too!
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