Glückskäfer | Word of the Week | DW | 29.01.2013
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Word of the Week


What's red and black and brings good luck?

They're red with spots, and sometimes they can be huge. But don't worry, they're completely harmless - unless, of course, you're an aphid.

And if you're not an aphid, it's difficult to resist their charm. They buzz through the air, and like to come to rest on your shoulder, your windshield, or even your coffee cup.

In German, these tiny red and black ladybugs are known as Marienkäfer, literally "Marie bugs." They were given that name because they were traditionally seen as a gift from the Holy Mother to farmers. Since they eat pesky aphids, they are a big help. And that's just one reason why they are also known as Glückskäfer, or "lucky bugs."

As a symbol for luck in Germany, ladybugs can often be found at New Years or other special occasions. They are incarnated on greeting cards in the form of giant stuffed animals, or decoratively carved out of wood.

A "real" Glückskäfer is red and has seven spots. Red symbolizes love, while seven is a lucky number. But be careful - according to superstition, anyone who harms a ladybug will be punished with bad luck!

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