That’s what you say in German if you wish somebody to get into the new year well. “Rutsch” means “slide” in German, so there are people who add “aber rutsch nicht aus!” (= “but don’t slip.”) to their well-wishes. The origin of that phrase actually is a Jewlicious one; it’s the corruption of a phrase adopted from Jews wishing each other a “Guten Rosh”.
Many words of Hebrew origin have entered German through Jews residing here. Even more of those words survived in dialects (of which Germany has got plenty). Sometimes the original medieval Hebrew word got lost or changed, occasionally the words and phrases were corrupted to onomatopoetically fit a similar German word, so they don’t always make sense at first glance. Often the vocabulary merged with vagrant vocabulary (sorry, it’s a Wiki link, but the only one I could find in English that didn’t refer to thieves’ cant in the English language), and those words that eventually stuck, apart from terms that refer to traditions and rites, denote that poverty and petty crimes were part of the everyday Jewish experience in medieval Ashkenaz.
The Goethe Institute provides a brief, comprehensive outline of the matter online [, which saves me from typing 🙂 ]:
Maloche, Schlamassel, meschugge â€“ with many of these words, we are conscious of their connection to Jewish culture and its languages Yiddish and Hebrew: for instance, â€œMischpocheâ€ (riffraff; clan), â€œChuzpeâ€ (chutzpah, brazenness), or when something doesnâ€™t seem to us to be â€œkoscherâ€ (kosher). With others, we hardly notice this: for example, the â€œMalocherâ€ (drudge) of the Ruhr Valley, or the â€œMackeâ€ (kink, loose screw) that someone has, the â€œmieseâ€ (wretched, miserable) weather, the governmentâ€™s â€œSchmusekursâ€ (schmoozing up) or the neighbour who is well â€œbetuchtâ€ (well-off).
The linguist Hans Peter Althaus has compiled 1,100 words of Yiddish origin in his Lexikon deutscher WÃ¶rter jiddischer Herkunft (i.e., Encyclopaedia of German Words of Yiddish Provenance), including old acquaintances like the â€œGroÃŸkotzâ€ (braggart) and the â€œSchmiere stehenâ€ (to keep a look out), but also some which strike one as exotic in German like â€œMachascheifeâ€ (witch) or â€œBesomenbÃ¼chseâ€ (â€œsmelling saltsâ€, â€œperfume flaconâ€) and which occur only in a few German dialects, technical jargon or argot. [Read the full article here].
Guten Rutsch everybody!