How baby songs become language

By Michael Seifert All newborns could learn any complex spoken language in the world. However, cultural differences are already apparent in the first sounds that babies make. This is proven by the long-standing research findings of Professor Kathleen Wermke from the University of Würzburg, which she recently summarised in the book “Babygesänge. How crying becomes speech”. The head of the Centre for Pre-Linguistic Development and Developmental Disorders and her team have observed, for example, that French babies actually cry with an accent. Their melody line runs from low to high, while babies of German-speaking mothers cry with a falling melody,… Read More

“April, April”

Always on April 1, people in Germany make an effort to “send other fellow human beings into April.” They tell or write then invented story or fantasy information to mislead the listeners or readers. These so-called April Fools’ Day hoaxes occur in the office, in the family, at school, but also in newspapers or on the news. The hoax is usually resolved with a shout of “April Fool’s Day.” There is no clear reason for the April Fool’s joke and why it falls on April 1. What is clear, however, is the fun associated with these April Fools’ Day pranks.… Read More

Nouruz is twice in Ramadan

Nouruz marks the start of the new year in Iran and Afghanistan. It is always a big celebration. But this year and in 2025, things are different. The reason: New Year’s Day on March 20 falls during the fasting month of Ramadan, which this year lasts from the evening of March 10 to the evening of April 9. Ramadan shifts by ten to 12 days every year according to the Islamic lunar calendar with only 354 days from the perspective of the solar calendar. Muslims are not allowed to eat or drink anything between sunrise and sunset during Ramadan. All… Read More

How hijab and niqab affect the absorption of vitamin D

By Oula Mahfouz and Arne Schick1 Vitamin D is a crucial nutrient for the formation and maintenance of healthy bones as it regulates the absorption of calcium, the main component of bones. It also influences numerous functions in the body’s cells that, for example, inhibit inflammation, protect against cell damage or support the immune system, muscle function and brain cell activity. Natural sources of vitamin D are limited, but we can absorb it from fatty fish or through the conversion of chemical substances in the skin under direct sunlight. The amount of vitamin D produced depends on several factors, including… Read More

Why February 29 exists

By Bright Igbinovia and Ute Kaiser Sabine turns 18 on February 29—even though she was born in 1952 and is actually 72 years old. How can that be? Sabine was born on a leap day—like around 5 million people worldwide, including around 55,000 in Germany. What is a leap day? This extra day is added to the month of February during a leap year. This year, February has 29 days instead of 28 and the leap year has a total of 366 days instead of 365. The starting point was the Julian calendar from 45 BC. This solar calendar was… Read More

Narri-Narro: about the origins of carnival

By Oula Mahfouz Whether it’s Fasnet, Fasching or Carnival: the jesters are ready for their most important days of the year. The highlight of the carnival season begins on “schmotziger Donnerstag”. This year it is on February 8. In the days that follow, there are parades, children dress up and paint their faces, and some adults also hide their faces behind scary masks and slip into colorful costumes. On Ash Wednesday, February 14, it’s all over. The biggest parade in the region takes place on Sunday, February 11 in Rottenburg. The carnival tradition is firmly anchored in the Christian calendar… Read More

Jury chooses “remigration” as the Unword 2023

By Ute Kaiser “Remigration” means return migration. In migration research, it is mainly used to describe voluntary return. However, it is now used by right-wing parties (such as the AfD) and right-wing and far-right movements (such as the Identitarian Movement) to disguise their real intentions: the forced expulsion or even mass deportation of people “with supposedly the wrong skin colour or origin, even if they are German citizens”. This is how a jury member of the “Unword of the Year” campaign described why they chose the right-wing campaign term “remigration” as the Unword of 2023. In German, terms or phrases… Read More

Fasting and “Kutia”: Christmas in Ukraine

With the changeover of the calendar from Julian to New Julian, Ukrainians celebrate Christmas on 25 December this year. Previously, the festival was on 7 January. Christmas is considered the second major holiday after Easter. It is usually celebrated with the family. There are many traditions and rituals associated with Christmas. The most important of these are fasting, Christmas Eve and the singing of Christmas carols. Fasting: The Christmas fast begins 40 days before Christmas. It is one of the longest periods of fasting. During the Christmas fast, all types of fruit and vegetables, mushrooms, pulses and cereal products may… Read More

Christmas: Stories of the Christ Child and Father Christmas

In Germany, children—and adults too, of course—traditionally receive their presents on the evening of 24 December, on Christmas Eve. In most families, they are then placed under the Christmas tree in the living room, which is decorated with colourful baubles and candles or fairy lights. These are usually fir or spruce trees that have been felled for Christmas. The explanation of who brought the presents varies depending on the region and the prevailing confession. In southern Germany, children are usually told the story of the Christ Child: The Christ Child places the presents under the tree without being seen. He… Read More

Christmas tree giant in Bronnweiler

By Reem Kamel-Al Sagheer and Brigitte Gisel Bronnweiler is home to one of the largest Christmas trees in Germany. When last measured last year, the giant tree in the Reutlingen district was 34 meters tall and grows right next to St. Mary’s Church. During the Advent and Christmas season, it is illuminated daily with 3,000 electric LED bulbs. Christmas trees are a festive tradition that unites millions of people around the world every year in Christian countries. The Bronnweiler tree towers several meters above the church tower and is positioned close to the church wall, writes the Protestant parish on… Read More

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