The top 25 Vienna legends#9 / „Mahlzeit”

I don’t do breaks when I am in the office. I just don’t have the time to. Sometimes I go to the nearest supermarket and try to get some rolls with butterkäse (which is a completely different story) or something small, which I then eat while working on.

vie_g_semmel.jpg

Sometimes I meet colleagues on the way and two out of three times they say “Mahlzeit” to me. I guess, that there are colloquial sayings for “Enjoy your meal” or the like in every language. But it is a uniquely Austrian thing to say this as a greeting during the hours between approximately 10:30 am and 2:30 in the afternoon. And it makes me cringe everytime because it has the connotation of civil servantry and being old-fashioned. But there is an interesting story as to where the greeting comes from, and it has to do with civil servants.

Nowadays still, various forms of greeting are politically nominated in Austria. “Grüss Gott” (“greet god”) is conservative and often heard. “Freundschaft” (“Friendship”) is the socialist counterpart but rarely used outside party conventions. Between the two world wars the nominations were even stronger. There also was “Heil Hitler”, of course, but the fights between the various political parties were strong, even militant, and would lead to a short civil war later on. Now civil servants that wanted to stay neutral and not be politically labelled with either party invented “Mahlzeit” as a loophole. And it has remained ever since.

PS: the picture above shows the legendary “Kurti-Semmel” made of a Wachauer, 5-7 dag sausage, 5 dag Ostbahn Kurti sausage, 1cm Edamer cheese, 5-7 pickles, 1 pepperoni, and probably has more calories than an average 3-dishes-lunch.

2 Comments so far

  1. mart (unregistered) on March 29th, 2007 @ 7:42 am

    chrchrchr

    whats english for “maulsperre”?


  2. richardrj (unregistered) on March 30th, 2007 @ 8:04 pm

    lockjaw



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