The meaning of “Frühjahrsmüdigkeit”

fruejahrsmuedigkeitHello everyone,

and welcome to our German Word of the Day. This time we will have a look at the meaning of:

die Frühjahrsmüdigkeit

 

Yeah… all chores are done, no further obligations today… time to write a new Word of the Day…  let’s see… coffee: check, comfy chair: check, smooth background music: check, online dictionaries opened: check… pun-box filled:  hmmm only stupid ones in here, anyway those will do so check… perfect. Looks like I am set to dive right into Frühjahrsmüdigkeit. Just a quick gaze out of the window… … … and now let’s gooooo…. oh… uhm… why is the screen dark… ah yeah right, my laptop has gone into hibernation… man I wish I could follow you there pal but we got work to do so resume…

Frühjahrsmüdigkeit, 5 long syllables of phlegm.  

Every German knows what it is. In fact it works a pretty legit excuse for less than top notch performance at work or in school. But it is hard if not impossible to translate to English.  So let’s see what exactly it is.

Frühjahrsmüdigkeit consists of 2 basic parts – das Frühjahr and die Müdigkeit.
Frühjahr for it’s own part consists of the word früh, which means early, and Jahr, which is the year. Joining the 2 we get early year, so it kind of makes sense that das Frühjahr means the season spring.
Now some of you might say “But isn’t der Frühling the German word for spring?”. And that is correct. Actually both words mean spring and yet they are not 100% the same thing. The difference is hard to grasp and might also be regionally dependent but I think der Frühling is a bit more the official season. The official beginning of spring in March is called der Frühlingsanfang. 

Frühjahr is maybe a bit more the general time span – early in the year and not winter anymore. The 20th of June is technically still spring but I would have issues speaking of Frühjahr in that context. You can find example where the range of Frühjahr extends till July though so it is not as fixed to certain dates as Frühling. Frühjahr is used in a number of compounds. Der Frühjahrsputz for example is an extremely thorough cleaning that is usually done  in spring time. Other examples are Frühjahrsoffensive or Frühjahrsmüdigkeit.
Generally the difference is not so big and you shouldn’t worry too much about which one to use. According to Google-ngram  Frühling is more frequent but in the said compounds it wouldn’t really work.

So… the second part of Frühjahrsmüdigkeit is die Müdigkeit which comes from the word müde. Müde essentially means tired.

or as a question:

There is one use of müde which might be a little confusing.

The grammar behind this is the Genitive case and usually a construction like this will sound rather classy and might be too much for everyday conversation. I just wanted to mention that here.
Die Müdigkeit is the noun for müde and it means tiredness or fatigue and so die Frühjahrsmüdigkeit is: spring fatigue.

Spring fatigue…  What is meant is a general feeling of weariness and fatigue that is not due to lack of sleep or an illness of some kind. The reason for it is… spring.
All nature is awaking, flours blossom one prettier than the other, young green leaves are sprouting, so fast you can almost watch them grow, birds are hooking up all around and the Germans… get very very very tired and uninspired, yawn all the time although they had 10 hours of sleep and blame it on spring. We are tired because it is spring. Note that it does not mean that we are fed up with spring… we like spring… it just makes us tired.

You can say that at work, in school or at home and in March and April you have a fair chance that people will accept it as a reason for your lack of energy and you might even get empathic comment like…

So… I have looked this up online and any dictionary suggests some translations but in most of the discussion boards native English speakers didn’t seem to know the concept at all. So if your dictionary suggests spring fever as a translation… well, if spring fever means being tired then it is indeed the translation. But if it means being … horny than it has nothing to do with Frühjahrsmüdigkeit.

What’s interesting is that German media talks about Frühjahrsmüdigkeit as if it is a scientifically proven and explainable phenomenon (here a link to a German newspaper article). You can read stuff like “It is because the body is modifying the hormonal balance and that is what makes us tired. Also they offer lots of good ideas how to deal with the problem… like how you should eat and sleep and whatnot.
Honestly I have no idea as to whether Frühjahrsmüdigkeit really is such a universal phenomenon. Some discussion boards really made me doubt it. It would be interesting to know if it is known in your country and if you have a word for it so I would be glad if you could leave me a comment.

Anyway, even if it is propaganda after all… it has worked in Germany. Everyone knows it and when you claim to have it people will be more forgiving with your lack of concentration  …just say:

  • Ich bin frühjahrsmüde.

or

If you are really clever you could even make the others say it by repeatedly mentioning that you are tired and wondering why ;)

So… this was our Word of the Day, die Frühjahrsmüdigkeit. The literal translation is spring fatigue. Leave me a comment whether you have that concept in your country too or not… unless you are to tired to do it. I understand. It’s April after all… … …
Hoep you liked it and see you next time.

for members :)

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Ikuko
Ikuko

Hello, I have just discovered your blog a few days ago and I am absolutely fascinated. I am from Japan and we have Frühjahrsmüdigkeit in Japanese as well. Well, we call it “May sickness” (easy). I am just glad to know that we have a word that has almost same words in exact same meaning, finally. Because, as you know, German is hard to translate into any languages and to Japanese is also out-of-questioningly difficult sometimes…. I am looking forward to the new post! Cheers.

Ron Magnuson
Ron Magnuson

I am unaware of a similar expression or sentiment in English. In the USA we do have ‘spring fever’ but that term expresses the sensation of wanting badly to get out out the house after what seems to have been an interminable winter. I hope this helps.

Ben
Ben

They definitely have the idea in Russian-speaking places though I don’t know a special word for it – I was in Kiev and a teacher said, everyone is depressed because it’s spring, as if that was an obvious and natural fact. And it’s pretty definitely not an English idea, people think spring is a time when everyone should be getting more lively, I think people would think you were strange if you spoke about spring making you feel down. But I definitely feel the Frühjahrsmüdigkeit and I’m English, so perhaps it just shows that English people don’t understand themselves and their feelings very much.

Armen
Armen

Greetings from Moscow!
In Russian we do have a common expression about some “unusual” spring feelings. It is “весеннее обострение” which means literary “spring’s intensification, (sharpening)”, but it seems to me that it is more like “spring fever” and not “die Frühjahrsmüdigkeit”.
Yeah, and thanks for explaining the difference between 2 German words for “Spring”.

Annasc
Annasc

Isn’t it about “getting active and wanting to get into relationship with someone”? I’m from Russia and we always used it that way :D
But anyway, we definitely have something like this every spring, although I usually just say “I hate spring” 0 times a day and everybody gets it

Annasc
Annasc

10 of course. Not 0

Armen
Armen

And also we have in Russian another expression, which seems to be more close to “Frühjahrsmüdigkeit”. It means “spring’s spleen”. But I think it doesn’t count, because you can use the same expression with the word “autumn” and it becomes “autumn’s spleen”. And the autum’s is even a bit more popular than the spring’s.

Peter
Peter

There’s a song that Bette Midler sings (es gibt ein Gesang (Lied?? ) den (das?) Bette Midler singt?)… (is there a participle wanting to happen there?): “Spring can really hang you up the most…”

Spring this year has got me feeling
like a horse that never left the post.
I lie in my room
staring up at the ceiling.
Spring can really hang you up the most.

Habt die goettliche Bette Midler vielleicht die Frühjahrsmüdigkeit?

Your blog is the best blog ever – you have renewed my love of crazy Germans, so thanks

alina
alina

I think that the phenomenon described by Fruhjahrmudigkeit is asthenia or more precisaly spring asthenia :) and yes, it is present also in romania :))

Jenel Hazlett
Jenel Hazlett

I am American (with German great great grandparents). I have always had Spring Tiredness. It is not what Americans call Spring Fever. I am so glad to know there is a word for this!

MacFeagle
MacFeagle

I am Scottish but living and working in Germany now. Also very much enjoying your helpful blog.
In Scotland we speak more of SAD or Seasonal Affected Disorder, a kind of depression that creeps up on you in the dark days of winter. I don’t think I ever had SAD but I remember the intoxicating feeling of spring and the light returning, it was like a sudden soaring of the spirits round about the time the daffodils came out. The idea that one would be tired in Spring is very exotic.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Hi, american here, to us, winter is the tired season because it gets dark quickly and it is cold so there is not much to do outdoors except snow related things, if there even is snow. there is a term called “cabin fever” though, which means being sick and bored from being stuck inside all the time. there are also the “dog days” of summer where its like 100 degrees out and you just want to sit in front of the fan and not move because if you do, then you will be hot again. the closest thing we have to Frühjahrsmüdigkeit is that spring is associated with allergies because of the pollen so spring probably sucks for those with allergies. but for everyone else, there is the term “spring fever”, which like is like the temperature is finally going up and finally i can go outside without so many layers and omg those trees have so much leaves i swear it was bare yesterday…

Hanka
Hanka

Us Czechs suffer from Frühjahrsmüdigkeit, too. It’s exactly the same concept (probably borrowed directly from Germany), complete with newspaper articles giving advice on how to deal with it etc. It’s so broadly accepted as a legitimate thing, that it’s never even occured to me that it doesn’t exist in English-speaking countries…