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GermanyinUSA is the home of the monthly newsletter “Germany for Americans”, produced by the German Embassy in Washington, DC. For the embassy’s official website, visit Germany.info.

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Word of the Week: Sternstunde

A positive turning point in your life might be described as a Sternstunde, a single moment in time when your personal fate hangs in the balance and is forever altered that speaks directly to the more mystical elements of the human spirit.

Composed of the two nouns Stern (star) and Stunde (hour), it literally means “Starhour”. A Sternstunde is a metaphor for decisions, deeds or events that fatefully influence the future. Its origins, however, are not much of a mystery. The word is derived from astrology, or the astrological theory according to which the constellation of the stars at the precise point in time of a person’s birth could influence his or her entire path in life. (Granted, this is not scientifically proven, but is based on astrological beliefs followed by some that are, given their very spiritual nature, by and large impossible to prove – or disprove.)

In more colloquial usage, the expression Sternstunde might be used to highlight a single exceptional event. For example, a person could describe the moment when they met the love of their life as a “Sternstunde meines Lebens” (‘star hour’ of my life). This could quite possibly be the most romantic way to use the word Sternstunde – to forever encapsulate like golddust suspended in a crystalline cloud tucked within the deepest recesses of a human heart one of the most emotionally charged moments of a lifetime.

Synonyms in German for Sternstunde, according to an online version of Germany’s famous Duden dictionary, include Glanzpunkt (shining point), glückliche Stunde (happy hour), Glückstunde (lucky hour), Höhepunkt (high point), Krönung (crowning moment/high point) and Schicksalsstunde (fateful hour/moment).

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