Here Comes the World Cup

I am sure you already know this, but as of the time of my writing, the World Cup begins in 22 days. In just over 3 weeks, soccer fever will consume Germany and much of the rest of the world. Are you ready?

If you are new to Germany and have arrived from North America, you might not be. The World Cup is big. Bigger than the Superbowl. And longer, more exciting, and more fun. “How can that be?”, you may ask. “Nothing is bigger than the Superbowl!”, you may say. This is something you must experience to believe.

Beginning June 12th at 5pm Sao Paolo time (10pm German time), you can spend your waking (and sleeping) hours consumed with the game of soccer. Lest you fear you will have to sit at home in front of your TV all day, rest assured: many workplaces will broadcast it in-house. All pubs will show the matches. And there is “public viewing” – the German notion of gathering in public squares to watch matches on giant screens, together. With beer. This is more fun than it sounds! (“public viewing” for Germans involves watching sports together in public, and is an awkward example of Germans adopting English words and giving them new meanings). Continue reading

Football Daze

It is a perfect Northern European midsummer’s evening, the sky a delicate swirl of gentle pastels and the soft air just cool enough for a cardigan: we have our window open. Then, quite suddenly, outside a tremendous roar erupts. Men, women and children let out shouts and whoops of joy which ring in the street below. To us, inside, the noises are not so surprising, for we too are watching football (soccer). A German striker has just pounded the ball into the back of the opposition’s net. A goal! Across the city, fireworks pop and crack in the dusky sky.

In our street at least three cafes have erected large screens on the pavement for the occasion of the European Cup – and this is not unusual. Throughout Berlin, and indeed Germany, these screens (called ‘public viewings’) have become the focus for large crowds – from dozens to the hundreds of thousands, depending on the venue – to gather round and share the tribulations and elations of their fellow countrymen in each Germany match. Continue reading