Advent Calendar 2 – Air it out

Written By: Emanuel Updated: December 2, 2023

“Airing it out”

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Hello everyone,

Day 2 of the epic Advent Calendar – the first real calendar treat of the year :).
And behind today’s door is an activity that is an essential part of German culture.
No, not drinking beer.
And no, not being extremely well dressed either, in case you were thinking that. Come on… at least one of you has to have been thinking that. Please. We’re really trying to be fashionable.
“No you’re not.”
Well, okay. We’re not.

But anyway, the activity that I mean that is part of German culture is… drumroll…

lüften

Those of you who have lived in Germany are probably now like “Oh yeah, I know that one.” :).
But for those who don’t know: lüften is the German verb for airing out a room.

It’s based on the noun die Luft, which means air, and it’s basically about opening the window to let fresh air in and old air out.
And Germans do this quite a LOT.
Like… every day, in countless offices across Germany, someone walks in and says stuff like this:

  • Uhhh… wir müssen unbedingt mal lüften.
  • Uhhh… we really have to air the room.
  • Practice pronunciation – click once to start recording and again to stop

  • Habt ihr was dagegen, wenn wir mal lüften?
  • Would you have a problem if we open the window for a bit?
  • Practice pronunciation – click once to start recording and again to stop

  • Habt ihr heute schon gelüftet?
  • Have you aired the room already today?
  • Practice pronunciation – click once to start recording and again to stop

And it doesn’t matter if it’s below freezing outside – lüften has to be accomplished!
I think part of the reason for why lüften is so ingrained in people’s minds is that Germany overall is not all that big on air conditioning. I mean, we know the concept of course, but for me for instance, if I were to build a house, it wouldn’t even cross my mind to add one.

This may well be a European thing actually, but the large majority of homes in Germany do not have air conditioning.
Which is also why you can often find the verb lüften in rental agreements.

  • Der Mieter ist verpflichtet, die Wohnräume regelmäßig zu lüften, um Schimmel zu vermeiden.
  • The tenant has the obligation to air out the room regularly, so as to avoid the growth of mold.
  • Practice pronunciation – click once to start recording and again to stop

I’d actually bet that people have fought in court over whether or not someone did proper lüften.

And like with almost any verb in German, of course there are a few “versions” of lüften, each for a specific type. Like auslüften for instance, which is about an object that contains a lot of “smells” that’s then left to air out.

  • Die neue Matratze muss 24 Stunden auslüften.
  • The new mattress has to air out for 24 hours.
  • Practice pronunciation – click once to start recording and again to stop

Or belüften and entlüften which are more technical sounding words you might find in the context of a lab or a legal document.
But the most “German one” is probably stoßlüften, which basically means “burst airing” and it’s about opening ALL the windows ALL the way, but only for a short period of time. That’s how you should air your rooms in winter because that way, you lose less heat than if you leave a window cranked open all the time.
“But, but… it’s below freezing outside.”
Silence!!
All the windows are to be open completely!! Such is the way of the stoßlüften.

I think some of you might think I’m kidding and that this is a niche term no one ever uses.
So instead of giving you an example sentence with stoßlüften, let me just show you a few of the search results you get when you look for “richtig stoßlüften”.

 

There are many many more!!
Like I said… lüften is an essential part of German culture and at least if you live in Germany, you should definitely add this word to your active vocabulary. And to your daily routine too :).

So, that’s it for today. Let me know in the comments if you have any experience with the German lüften and if it was a culture shock or anything. And also, let me know how it is in your country. Do you lüften? Do you also have hundreds of articles about the correct technique?
I’m really curious to hear your stories, so I’ll hopefully see you in the comments below.
And in either case, have a great day and bis morgen :)

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