Wir haben bis in die Puppen gefeiert.

English Translation

We partied into the small hours.

Could someone elucidate the phrase “bis in die Puppen”? Is there something similar and idiomatic in English?

I looked it up - it dates back to the 1800s in Berlin, where there was a large park with some large statues right the middle. For some reason, the locals referred to these statues as “puppets”, and because they were right in the middle of this large park, if you wanted to see them, it would take a long time to get there, see them, and then walk all the way back. So, the term “bis in die Puppen” arose to describe a long period of time. The expression is still around to this day: Bis in die Puppen - [GEOLINO]


Many thanks for tracking the puppets down. I thought it might be a euphemism for a visit to the restroom, like “see a man about a dog,” or as the Gypsies were said to say, “go look at the horses.” .


By the way, I find dict.cc is great for searching for the meaning of expressions like this. It even has this exact one: dict.cc | bis in die Puppen | English Dictionary

The problem with dict.cc is that it will only tell you what the expression means, and not where it comes from. Wiktionary is sometimes a good resource for etymology, but sadly not in this particular case: bis in die Puppen - Wiktionary

And for what it’s worth, I think the nearest English expression here would be “we partied until the cows came home”, though it’s a bit old fashioned: until the cows come home - Wiktionary

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I’ve heard “until the cows come home” being said quite often by Dave Jones (from EEVblog).

But as far as I understand, it’s a generic “for a very long time”, whereas I feel that “bis in die Puppen” is limited to “until way past bedtime” or “deep into the night”.

Related german expressions that may match “until the cows come home” better (depending on context):

bis zum Abwinken
bis der Arzt kommt
bis du schwarz wirst