'Feierabend': The German Concept that Helps Disconnect from the Workday

There is a German word referring to the time that follows work: feierabend. Christophe Stengel, a 41-year-old Berliner, defines the word as: “First, it's the moment you stop working for the rest of the day -- of course, [it’s] a good feeling then. Second, it's the part of the day between work and going to bed.” As many workers are adapting to the necessity of working from home, many Germans underline the importance of a clear disconnection between working hours and personal time. But feierabend shouldn't be associated with partying or translated into "happy hour." The origin of the need to separate work from resting hours is rooted in agricultural times, when church bells would announce the end of working hours and the start of religious and resting activities. After industrialization, it evolved into the need for a time dedicated to physical and mental regeneration for workers to be efficient again the next day. Dr. Caroline Rothauge explains, "Thus, work and free time were conceived of as two sides of the same coin: Using free time adequately makes one fit for working again and, at best, even increases one’s performance.” Feierabend also isn't about work-life balance. Rather, it is a way of setting boundaries between work and personal time instead of trying to reconcile the two. That's when a transitional action comes into play, such as replacing the office commute with a bike ride, as Nils Backhaus, 34, began doing to create a mental transition while working from home during the pandemic.