My first thought was that six-year-old boys would probably roll on the floor in laughter – but only if they speak English. German children wouldn’t see the humor.
It’s another holiday in Germany, one that I never remember being mentioned in Canada. It is Ascension Day.
For some reason, until this week I never heard the German name for this day: Christi Himmelfahrt.
My first thought was that young Canadians boys would immediately hear the “fart” in the word and start making jokes. German youth wouldn’t think of it. Not because they are better behaved, but because the German word for “fart” is furz. No wordplay possible there.
I have at times lamented that German frequently doesn’t have the same richness of vocabulary as English. Fewer words means less detail in the expression. My usual complaint involves the word Himmel which depending on context, means either sky or Heaven. There’s a big difference. (There’s also a theological issue, but we won’t go there.)
Other times I have marveled at the inventiveness. What we in English call a glove is a handschuhe, which translates literally as “hand shoe.” Makes sense when you think of it.
There’s also a literal translation for today’s holiday. Ascension Day commemorates the taking up into heaven of the resurrected Jesus Christ. (The details of this historical event, which took place before a crowd of witnesses, can be found in The Bible, in Acts 1. )
I, with my admittedly limited German, translate Christi Himmelfahrt, as “Christ drives to Heaven” (or Christ drives to the sky). “Journeys” is probably more accurate than “drives,” but “drives” is the more common translation of the word fahrt. If you know the history, you know that is a a little more descriptive than “Ascension Day,” which really doesn’t tell you what happened.
So that is our language lesson for a Thursday. Not the fart joke you were expecting from the title perhaps – but at least it didn’t smell.