Word of the Week: Vorfreude

Nov 18, 2011

Over the course of the year, Germany.info and The Week in Germany will highlight a different "Word of the Week" in the German language that may serve to surprise, delight or just plain perplex native English speakers.


picture-alliance/dpa Enlarge image (© picture-alliance/dpa)

With December and the holiday season fast approaching, our thoughts turn to spending time with family and friends. If you get along with your these folks, and if you look forward to seasonal holiday preparations, you may experience Vorfreude - a delicious sense of excitement and anticipation of what is yet to come.

Vorfreude literally means something along the lines of "pre-happiness" or "anticipating joy" as it is a compound noun comprised of the prefix "Vor" (pre/before) and "Freude" (joy/happiness).

Given that many Christmas traditions come from Germany - notably the Christmas tree - it is small wonder that the expression Vorfreude would be applied to the annual end-of-year holiday season on the Christian calendar.

Yet it also can be applied to all manner of other situations, such as that tingle of delight one might experience before a fun night out with friends, a rendesvous with a lover, or simply spending an evening alone curled up with a good book or watching a favorite TV program.

The most exuberant form of Vorfreude exhibted by human beings, however, probably comes from kids excited about gifts or other surprises they know they are about to receive. The innocent, unbridled joy of happy children is what makes celebrating the holidays time and again worth it for most families - whether everyone gets along on a grand scale or not.

© Germany.info

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