Heimat is one of the very special words in German which actually doesn’t have any English parallel. It denotes home town or home land, connotes however a lot more than that. The German word Heim means home. However the term Heimat is a lot more than a 4 walled house, as it connects you with the feeling of being at home. There is a lot about the origin of the word Heimat which is quite simple to find on internet and there are pages describing about the fact how this word has connotations specific to German culture, German society and specifically German Romanticism, German nationalism, German statehood and regionalism.

Now, why this word is special to me is because I associate it with one of my initial lectures of German and the way it was explained to me. I remember learning this word when I was in 11th or 12th and I am lucky to have learnt German from the best of best teachers who always made German learning so much interesting. I remember our teacher explaining us that Heimat is not a word, but it is a feeling. Even if it translates as homeland, it doesn’t mean your country or your city, but it means a place where you have a feeling of belongingness, where you feel happy. Heimat is a complex term describing a simple mixture of memories, language, roots, secure feeling and family. And then we were asked to write about the topic “what is Heimat for me?” and I remember writing that Heimat for me is a place where I can express myself in my mother tongue, it is the place where I get the “Heimat” feeling. Years passed after this and I still feel the same. I learnt new languages in all these years and all it did was brought me closer to my mother tongue. So it is very important to learn new languages, however it is equally important to have a mother tongue which gives you that feeling of belongingness. Exactly like only German has that feeling for the word Heimat which no other language can have..!

Do share if there are any equivalent words in your mother tongue for Heimat!

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