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CHRISTMAS

German word of the day: Die Bescherung

One word in front of this word of the day can change everything...

German word of the day: Die Bescherung
Gifts under a tree in Hamburg. Photo: DPA

Die Bescherung 

What does it mean? 

Most years in Germany, after a hearty Christmas dinner and maybe a church service on December 24th, there will most likely be a Bescherung

Gifts wrapped up and ready for opening on Christmas Eve. Photo: DPA.

This is the moment when everyone gathers around the Christmas tree and opens presents. Die Bescherung is a noun, describing the event and is based on the verb bescheren, to give or bring, especially presents. 

Where does it come from? 

Bescheren has its roots in the Middle High German word beschern, which means “assign” or “deliver.”

Historically, it was associated closely with notions of fate and God’s allotment to humans. 

As a result, gifts were often seen as coming from Christ, as divine presents. 

Now, German children celebrating Christmas receive gifts on Christmas Eve either from Der Christkind or Der Weihnachtsmann

READ ALSO: Why “Das Christkind” vs. “Der Weihnachtsmann” is a big debate in Germany

Animals want a Bescherung too! A gorilla in Stuttgart receives his Christmas gift. Photo: DPA. 

Double meaning? 

Bescherung is one of the interesting cases where a word can have two completely opposite meanings based on the situation it is used in. If you use it as part of an excited expression on Christmas it has a positive connotation. 

However, if you hear a German say “Da haben wir die Bescherung!” or “schöne Bescherung” it might mean something a bit different. These are colloquial phrases used to note an unpleasant surprise. 

A 1998 production of “Schöne Bescherung” as a play in Düsseldorf. Photo: DPA.

In fact, the German title of the “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” movie is “Schöne Bescherung.” Uncle Eddie’s arrival at the Griswold’s is a classic example of a schöne Bescherung

Example sentences:

Wann haben wir die Bescherung? 

When do we open the presents?

Er bescherte mir ein wunderschönes Geschenk.

He gave me a wonderful present.

 

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WEATHER

Will anywhere in France get a white Christmas this year?

A white Christmas might be at the top of many people's festive wish list but will it actually come true for anyone in France this year?

Haut-Koenigsbourg castle in Orschwiller, eastern France.
Haut-Koenigsbourg castle in Orschwiller, eastern France. Non-mountainous parts of the country will not see snow this year. (Photo by PATRICK HERTZOG / AFP)

If you’re in France and have been dreaming of a white Christmas, you are probably out of luck. 

It has been freezing in recent days with temperatures falling to a low of -33.4C in Jura on Wednesday morning, but the cold spell isn’t going to last. 

Temperatures across the country will hover around the 10C level in most of France by the afternoon on December 25th according to Météo France, with parts of the country including Brittany and some parts of eastern France experiencing rainfall. 

By the afternoon on Christmas Day, the chances of snow look extremely limited. Source: www.meteofrance.com

On Saturday, there will be some snowfall, but only if you are high in the mountains at an altitude of 1,800-2,000m. On Sunday, places above 1,500m could also see snow – but this rules out the vast majority of the country. 

Roughly half the country will see sunshine over the weekend. The French weather channel said that this Christmas could be among the top five or six warmest since 1947. 

Last year, Météo France cautioned: “While we often associate snow with Christmas in the popular imagination, the probability of having snow in the plains [ie not in the mountains] during this period is weak in reality.”

One of the last great Christmas snowfalls, outside of France’s mountainous areas, came in 2010 when 3-10 cm of snow fell in Lille, Rouen and Paris. In Strasbourg, 26cm fell. 

On Christmas Day in 1996, 12 cm of snow fell in Angers – ironically, this was also the day that the film, Y’aura t’il de la neige à Noël? (Will there never be snow at Christmas?) was released. It had been ten years since France had seen such snowfall outside of the Alps and Pyrenees. 

Météo France directly attributes declining rates of Christmas snowfall to climate change. Compared to 50 years ago, even the Alps receives the equivalent one less month of snowfall per year. 

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