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Rülpsen (burping). It is a thing we all do, to save our Magen (stomachs) from having to deal with all the air we swallow with food and drinks. For Niesen (sneezing), people of many cultures tell the sneezing person something like Gesundheit! (literally: “health!”, meaning “bless you!”). It is usually some way to wish that person good health, as Niesen is often associated with an Erkältung (cold), for example. With Rülpsen, however, it is different. Not that many countries have a tradition that follows a Rülpser (burp). In Germany, we do!
After somebody burps, you say: Schulz! Sometimes, it is accompanied by putting your thumb on your Stirn (forehead). It is especially popular among Jugendliche (teenagers) to do this as a drinking game. If somebody does not say Schulz, gets hit!
But what is this tradition, where does it come from? There is a theory. But first, let’s explain what Schulz means.
Schulz is actually a pretty common German name. The name comes from the Beruf (job) Schultheiß in Medieval times. It was a man who would order the Schuld (debt) of people, and often also had a certain role as Richter (judge). Later, a Schultheiß also became known as a Schultze, Schulze or just Schulz. But that doesn’t explain how it got associated with Rülpsen!
A theory goes that in a bar in 1978, a man named Schulz burped very loudly, and friends sitting with him shouted his name in shock: Schulz! Some teenagers at another table took that and kept saying it, and from there, it spread. But this is purely anecdotal, there is no evidence that this is actually how it went! This story is widespread, though. What do you think, could it be true?
Whatever, the case, saying Schulz is common practice in Germany, especially among Männerrunden (literally: “men rounds”, meaning smokers, as in social gatherings for men).
Something else about Rülpsen: it is also called, more formally, aufstoßen. It is calledein Bäuerchen machen (literally: “to make a little farmer”) for babies that need to burp after they ate. Weird, right? Most likely, this comes from Bauer (farmers), who are not seen as very manierlich (mannerly) people. And Rülpsen is not seen as manierlich either, and so this was put together, and the Bäuerchen was born! Only farmers and babies are allowed to burp in public!