Germans have a bit of a reputation for occasionally being just a bit morbid or depressing. For example, rather than saying “Time flies when you’re having fun,” the Germans have a saying that translates into English as something like, “Time crawls by when you’re miserable.” A little depressing? Yes. Does it make me giggle? Absolutely.
However, there’s something very depressing about the way in which Americans approach their working week while Germans remain upbeat and positive. Like many Americans, I used to dread Mondays. I drove to work on Monday mornings kicking and screaming, and thus began my countdown to Friday evening. From Monday morning at 8:00 until Friday at 5:00 PM, I was on someone else’s schedule, and I hated it. No matter what I did on my weeknights, no evening was ever as sweet as a Friday evening.
For my non-American readers, if you think I’m exaggerating, just Google “Monday Memes” and click on images. You’ll be overloaded with one depressing image after another that clearly depicts the way we wrap nearly all our happiness into our weekends.
Germans, however, embrace their free time. They even have a word for the time between getting off work and going to bed, and this word can ONLY be used for days that you’ve actually gone to work. It’s called “Feierabend” [fire-obb-end] or “free evening”. When I translated “Schönen Feierabend,” the dictionary said it meant “Have a nice evening” but that isn’t entirely correct. The problem is that there’s no real English translation for Feierabend because who on earth would want to celebrate a Monday evening, right?!
You see, when it comes to work, most Americans think of their jobs as a major inconvenience that must be tolerated so they can pay their bills, but Germans accept the responsibility of work with grace and dignity, and they don’t let it get in their way of enjoying life.
Just yesterday, I said to my husband, “It was such a beautiful day today. Did you get to be outside at all during your workday?” When he answered “no”, I replied with, “Oh, I’m so sorry. That’s sad.” Being that he’s German, his reply didn’t surprise me at all. He said, “Why is that sad? I was at work. It’s good that I have a job.”
Before coming to Germany, I’m not sure I could’ve imagined that life could be any different than dreading the workweek and living for the weekend, but slowly, this outlook on life has crept up on me to the point where it actually makes me a little sad to see my American friends posting anti-Monday memes on Facebook at the beginning of each week. We Americans could definitely learn from the Germans in this aspect. We need to learn to enjoy life every single day of the week! Life is a lot more fun when we can find happiness every day rather than only on the weekends!
And now I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my favorites… Winnie the Pooh.
We could also learn something from Pooh. 🙂