Word of the Week: Blaumachen

Aug 22, 2014

blaumachen Enlarge image (© picture alliance / blickwinkel) Do you ever wake up and feel a little blue? Maybe you're tempted to skip work or school. Well, Germans have a unique word for doing so: blaumachen ("to make blue").

If you've ever called in sick when you weren't, or went MIA on your colleagues, then you are guilty of blaumachen - skipping work or school. Although you might have been feeling blue while hiding under your covers, the meaning of this word actually has little to do with color.

Its origins, however, have a lot to do with it. Many believe that blaumachen originated from the term Blauer Montag ("blue Monday"), which was traditionally a day of rest for those who used to work in the fabric dyeing industry. Back in the Middle Ages, craftsmen used natural dyes (like indigo) on their fabric. The craftsmen would typically soak their fabric on Sunday and hang it up to dry on Monday. The chemical reaction between the air and the special solution on the wool would turn the fabric blue.

While the fabric was turning blue, the craftsmen had nothing better to do than sit around and wait. As a result, Mondays were rather unproductive, and became known as a day of rest. In some industries - primarily service industries - this tradition stuck. Some hair dressers, museums and stores, for example, continue to close down on Mondays to this day.

blaumachen Enlarge image (© picture alliance / blickwinkel) But in general, the word blaumachen refers to the act of skipping work when you should be there. Have you ever "made blue"?

By Nicole Glass, Editor of The Week in Germany

© Germany.info
blaumachen

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