We all like to talk about the weather. In this lesson you’ll learn how to do so in German. There are even a few hidden vocabulary dangers in talking about how warm or cold you are! (We’ll tell you how to avoid that problem.)
Let’s imagine you move to Germany for a year. Maybe you got a job, maybe you decided to learn German in summer school and stick around after that or maybe you came on the freelancer visa. No matter what, you want to have an adventure.
So, after your year is over, what are you going to tell your friends and family about the weather?
1. Frühling (spring)
Ah, spring! You’re so excited to get outside and start enjoying your new country. On one of the many long weekend holidays in spring in Germany, you decide to plan an outing to the Badeschiff in Berlin with your friends.
On the day you’re planning to go swimming, you roll out of bed, pull back your curtain—and what stares back at you? Regen (rain). Cold drizzly rain, streaking your windowpanes. It’s Mai (May)! Why is it 10 degrees Celsius and raining?
A quick Google search shows that after a beautiful April (April), Central and Eastern Europeans often experience a dispiriting cold May.
All right, so you cancel your plans to go swimming. The rain lets up around noon, so you unchain your bike, wipe off the seat and set off through the park. But there’s so much Nebel (fog) that it’s hard to see! You almost run into an elderly German woman with a shopping bag, a man with a baby pram, a frolicking dog—no, this just won’t do.
The fog lifts around 3 p.m., and the temperature rises to 13 degrees. You plan a picnic in Treptow Park with your friends. You never thought that a bewölkt (cloudy) day like this would qualify for a picnic, but hey, you’ll take what you can get.
2. Sommer (Summer)
Finally, summer arrives! Sonnenschein (sunshine) until 11 p.m.! Parks full of sunbathing Germans, some of them in FKK (Freikörperkultur, which translates to “free body culture,” also known as nude sunbathing), which shocks you a little, but hey, you’re in Europe and need to adapt to the norms. Bikes and flea markets, boating on the lakes outside Berlin, barbecues…this is heaven.
You decide to plan your own barbecue at Tempelhofer Feld. You buy a disposable barbecue pan, grab your blanket, your Frisbee, some beers and burgers and friends. It’s Kaiserwetter (glorious weather) and you just cannot wait to etwas Sonne tanken (catch some rays). Maybe you’ll even take your shirt off. You’re in Berlin now!
The beginning of the barbecue is great. But by 5 p.m., heavy clouds gather on the horizon. Big, angry-looking clouds. And what’s that? Gewitter (thunder)? It sounds spooky, bomb-like sounds reverberating across the field that was once Hitler’s airport—although you promised yourself you wouldn’t think about World War II so much while here in Germany, since there are so many other interesting historical aspects to learn about.
But no matter what, that Gewitter sounds like it’s going to ruin your picnic. Sure enough, Blitz (lightning) flashes on the horizon, and before you know it you’re running for cover. As you sit inside watching Hagel (hail) patter on the pavement, you wonder, “Can I ever count on the weather in this country?”
3. Herbst (Fall)
Autumn! Kühl (cool) days, yellow Herbstlaub (autumn leaves) on the poplars. You take bike rides in the countryside, crunch through the parks, put on the Icelandic sweater you bought at Humana Kaufhaus. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Then, one Oktober (October) day, you wake up for work and head outside to climb on your bike. But something very terrible has happened.
The Regen is back. Everything is nass (wet) and so very cold. You forgot what it was like, the cold. You get on your bike and der Wind (the wind) threatens to knock you off.
So. This is what autumn becomes in Germany.
4. Winter (winter)
You try to remember what those long Sommer days were like. Did you imagine them? Crusty Schnee (snow) covers the ground. The sun sets at 3 p.m. You’re ever so Kalt (cold) whenever you go outside. It’s windig (windy) and you can barely remember what the Sonne (sun) looks like.
You’ve just about had enough of this, and you resolve to never leave your apartment. But then your friend invites you to a Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) and you begrudgingly agree to go.
At the market you discover a series of stalls, decorated with gnomes, lights and Santas, selling all kinds of German Christmas staples: gingerbread cookies, Christmas gifts, Glühwein (mulled wine) and bratwurst. It’s truly Hundewetter (bad weather) but everyone’s talking and laughing. Kids are running around, adults are warming their hands on barrel fires and the joy of the season is in the atmosphere.
After an hour at the market you realize you’re having a great time, too. Maybe, you reflect, winter is the only season you can count on in Germany: The weather is going to be terrible no matter what, but Germans have a series of tried-and-true methods to get through it and enjoy themselves anyway.