Why some Germans are breezy draft-dodgers

Good to Know: “Es zieht” – There’s magic in the air in Germany, and if that air happens to be coming through your room from the outside, it can magically make you very ill!

The German expression “Es zieht” (literally “it pulls”) expresses, on the surface of things, that there is a draft (Br. Eng. “draught” – related to the word “drag”) in the room. What’s much more important is what the speaker is implying, namely all of the following:

a) “It is drafty.”
b) “I strongly believe that the fact that I am experiencing the sensation of wind indoors will make me sick even though there is no rational basis for my belief.”
c) “Close the window! It doesn’t matter how hot it is!”

Thankfully, this phenomenon is not quite as common in Berlin as in other regions, and is usually restricted to members of an older generation. Also, to be fair, it is not a uniquely German superstition that an indoor breeze can cause a cold, pain in neck, back and joints, infections of the eye lining as well as bladder infections (even though an outdoor breeze is perfectly fine and pleasant). It is common in many places in Eastern and Southeastern Europe to insist on shutting all the windows in steaming hot buses and to wear several protective layers of clothing to prevent some serious (albeit psychosomatic) harm.

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