The German word feierabend originates from the 16th century. Then, it meant celebration evening and was used to describe the night before a public holiday.
Today, in Germany, it’s come to mean the free time between leaving the office and bedtime on any working day. A time for doing nothing … not even time for exercising or going to the theatre. Historian Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl described the concept in the 1880s as “an atmosphere of carefree wellbeing, of deep inner reconciliation, of the pure and clear quiet of the evening.”
The concept seems impossible for all … emergency and shift workers, people on call-out, those needing to do overtime to get by, workaholics, researchers so close to that key discovery, those of us who’ve left things too late and for whom the deadline is looming.
But as a concept, it does seem a good tradeoff … get the job done before close of play on Friday night, and you’ve got the whole weekend to relax. No taking unfinished work home from the office on a Friday night, no checking of emails on a Sunday evening, . Just . . . pure . . . feierabend.