Hessentag – it’s not just for a day

June 2011 - ©Can Stock Photo Inc. / gibsonffThere is a bit of a misconception when it comes to the word “Hessentag”, not just among foreigners.  Even some German native speakers do not quite understand the term the first time they hear it.

The problem is the word “Tag”.

Ask anyone what “Tag” means in English and they will probably tell you it means “Day”.  As in “Sonntag” – Sunday, or “Tag der offenen Tür” – Open Day, or simply in “Guten Tag“..  This leads to people thinking that the Hessentag is just for one day, which of course it is not – it lasts for 10 days.

And yet there is another meaning, and that is literally “to meet” or “to sit”.

You have probably heard this meaning used lots of times, and never realised it.  But just think about the German parliament – the Bundestag.

So guess what the Hessentag means?  The people of Hesse are meeting.  Or as they say in German, “Hessen tagt”.

Whether this name is simply that, or has some deeper meaning going back to the origins of the event which was meant to help integrate refugees from the east after the Second World War and at the same time forge an identity for the new state of Hesse, I do not know.

What I do know is that other forms of “Tag” take place in Oberursel during the event, starting with the local parliament – the Landtag with many of the political parties holding open meetings and various debates taking place.

There will also be a meeting of all the mayors (Bürgermeister) in Hesse.

But, in a way, the Hessentag lasts for more than 10 days as both the local residents and politicians will tell you.

The residents will tell you that they have endured roadworks and disruption for over the year beforehand.

The politicans talk about the Nachhaltigkeit and how much has been invested in the town’s infrastructure, like the new stations and cycle paths.

Either way, it’s not just for a day.


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About Graham

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Germany as a placement student in 1993, returning in 1995 to live there permanently. He has been writing for AllThingsGerman.net since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche and other publications he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.

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