Word Of The Week: Die Eierlegendewollmilchsau

Learning a new language is a permanent fixture on my bucket list, and so I have tried to learn (and then slowly forgotten) as much as I could language-wise in every country I’ve lived in. With the exception of Thai, where the same word could mean fish sauce or pussy juice based on the tone, I’ve managed to make some headway into small talk, at the very least.

And so, here I am in Germany, learning the good old Deutsch. And while it drives me crazy most days, there are some true gems in the language. Take for example their strange addiction to combining a tonne of words together to make an entirely new word.

This has resulted in the creation of a stunningly beautiful WORD – Die Eierlegendewollmilchsau.

Eier = Egg. Legende = Laying. Woll = Wool. Milch = Milk. Sau = Sow/Pig.

The word means precisely it’s literal translation. An egg laying, wolly, milk giving pig. This is the German word for ‘A Perfect Person’ or a superwoman, someone who can do everything and do it amazingly!

“Not only does my boss expect me to work on 3 projects at the same time, he also expects me to make him coffee, babysit his children and answer my phone at all times of day. What does he think I am? Die Eierladendewollmilchsau?!!”

Also interestingly, the article ‘the’, takes on the female form in German. Which means that this Eierladenwollmilchsau is a woman! But of course!

The German Maibaum Tradition

The thrill of living in a new country is always unparalleled. Once you get a hit of this drug called travelling, you’d never really get tired of the highs it brings you. When you invest time and effort in getting past the anxiety, the fear of the unknown, the battle with unfamiliarity, the feeling of being a stranger, you will have a bucketload of endless discoveries to make. And there is no joy more fulfilling than that.

Germany has been similar to me in terms of the journey I make in every new country that I live in, but the familiarity of the process of learning – be it a new language or a local tradition you had never heard about, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.

One of the most heartwarming traditions here (to me), is the Mai Baum. I went to bed on the night of the 31st, and when I woke up on the 1st of May, there were birch trees in every other garden decorated with colourful crepe paper, and a bright red wooden heart with a lady’s name on it.

I later found out that Maibaum is a tradition going back to the 16th century, and that I had just witnessed the 21st-century version of it. In the modern-day version of it, a man in love with a woman buys a birch tree, decorates it and writes her name on her heart, and then has to wait till the lady (and her family) are asleep before leaving it in her balcony or garden. They have to then guard it overnight so that other men in love with her or just mischief makers who are looking to make a quick buck steal it from where it is.

I heard that in the countryside, it gets a bit more exciting. The boy has to not only buy a tree without raising suspicion, and decorate it so no one sees it, he has to also sneak up to her roof overnight and place it there. If he is so unlucky so as to have his tree taken hostage, he has to buy it again from the treenapers!

The exciting part of it being brought to the present day is that now even girls can participate in this tradition. Every 4 years, it is the girl’s turn!

Do you have a labour day celebration like this where you’re from? I’d love to hear about it!