The Draft a.k.a. Durchzug/Zugluft

Image courtesy of marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Look at this miserable lady! Chances are, she brought her cold onto herself by getting into a draft. Germans tend to fear “the draft”, and try to avoid it at all costs, as, in their minds, it can cause numerous illnesses and ailments including colds, sore throats, headaches, a stiff neck, even pneumonia or worse. My web search for “Durchzug” or “Zugluft” resulted in over a million websites.. Admittedly, I only perused a few of them. This is what I learned:

1. Not only Germans are afraid of the draft. This makes me feel less weird.

2. According to a 1968 Spiegel article , two South African researchers did experiments to find out if drafts could really make people ill. The result: NO. It is all in our heads. These researchers, however, found a nice explanation for the fear of winds entering our homes – they blame it on ancient religions that imagined demons traveling by wind – e.g., the most evil demon of the Sumerians was called Lilitu, which translates into “Wind”.

I will still wear my scarf in my drafty bedroom this coming winter. It helped me not catch a cold last year. Who would have thought that weapons against demons could be so cheap?

Fresh Air

Image courtesy of Idea go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Idea go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Me: Let’s open the windows and get some fresh air in.
American partner: But it’s cold outside!
Me: So?

We love to air out our homes – and remember, a lot of Germans do not have air-conditioning, or air filters, or 500 varieties of air fresheners. If you get too cold, just leave the room, close the door, and wait till the “lueften” (airing out) is over. Also, many German homes are smaller than their American counterparts, thus the air does get stuffier more easily.

And don’t forget: fresh air is medicinal, or so we believe in Germany (and probably other parts of Europe, too). Why else would there be the term “Luftkurort“, whose English equivalent “climate spa” or “climate health resort” is not really a familiar concept? Ideally, you go to the mountains or the seaside, and breathe, breathe deeply. If you can’t afford this, just open your windows once a day, that’s better than nothing. Should the season happen to be winter, remember Friedrich Nietzsche : “Was uns nicht umbringt, macht uns staerker.”

Funnily, one typical situation of windows NOT being opened is during car rides. You might be stuck, with Germans, on a very hot day, in a car, and they will not let you roll down the windows. If you did, you and everybody inside would be exposed to the much-feared DRAFT. But that’s another story.