So you’ve finally gone through your “Welcome to Germany” brochures. Well, there are a lot of things about Germans that you will discover simply by being part of the culture here.
The German culture and lifestyle has a lot more to offer than just great cars, cozy beer gardens, tasty sausages and picturesque castles. Below are 10 things about Germans that people tend to discover for themseves once they start licing in Germany.
- 1. Time is everything. 12 pm means 11:55 am (not 12:05pm!)
- 2. Sunday afternoon means coffee and cake!
- 3. Contrary to popular belief, Germans actually do have humor
- 4. People stare at you all the time
- 5. Football is a religion
- 6. Germans love cash!
- 7. At some point you will love German bread!
- 8. Everything is closed on Sunday
- 9. Cautiously ask Germans “How are you doing?” They take it literally
- 10. Everyone in the sauna is naked
1. Time is everything. 12 pm means 11:55 am (not 12:05pm!)
Germans are famous for their discipline and punctuality and you have to stick to that – especially if you want to make friends. Always arrive five minutes early for an appointment, meeting, or appointment. Among friends being exactly on time or a few minutes late might be tolorated but not advised. Appointments are set in stone and there is no such thing as around 12 in Germany!
2. Sunday afternoon means coffee and cake!
The British have their tea time and the Germans celebrate their coffee and cake tradition – especially on weekends. Sunday afternoons, between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., is the perfect time to sit together and enjoy a cup of coffee with homemade cakes. What else should you do if you can’t go shopping or mow the lawn? If you neither have the time nor the talent to bake something yourself, just drive to the nearest train station or a bakery that is open on Sundays (for a few hours) to meet the German demand for fresh rolls and cakes.
3. Contrary to popular belief, Germans actually do have humor
Although it’s hard to believe, but Germans have a great sense of humor and like to laugh too. It is because non-Germans often do not understand what is so funny: German humor is based on blunt and apparently serious statements that are funny because of the context. It takes a while to get used to it – and mastering the German language is an important part of it – but then you come to a humorous pleasure that will leave you laughing on the ground.
4. People stare at you all the time
The Germans have a rigid problem: Either the old lady next door is watching your every step or the teenage girl in the subway across from you can’t look away. In Germany, intense eye contact is a daily occurrence – to such an extent that immigrants and visitors have dubbed it “The Germanic Stare Down”. German pedestrians also use staring for communication and the right length of eye contact at the right time can mean, “I’m walking here and it’s not my fault if you don’t move to the side and land in the hedge.” This takes some practice, but just try to stare like the locals do.
5. Football is a religion
Football is not a normal sport in Germany – it is a religion. There are few other nations in the world that are as crazy about football as we Germans. The fans of different clubs downright hate each other, which can even affect relationships. In cities like Munich, you have to be VERY lucky to get a ticket for a game, not to mention a season ticket. By the way: when Bayern Munich has an important game, the whole city – from the children to the grannies – wears red to support the team.
6. Germans love cash!
In Germany you can never assume that a shop or restaurant will accept payment by credit card: Germans prefer good, old cash! There is usually an ATM in major stores and malls so you can withdraw the money you need, but it is advisable to have more money with you than in your home country. When you go to the supermarket, never forget your one euro coin, as you won’t get a shopping cart without it. Also, be prepared to pay for plastic bags (in case you’ve forgotten your reusable ones) and to wrap your own groceries.
7. At some point you will love German bread!
The bread in Germany is amazing! You get the trifecta of choice, taste and quality. In addition to rolls and pretzels, Germans eat white bread, wholemeal bread, pumpernickel, baguette … there are hundred of types of bread – Last we checked, there were over 300 types of bread in Germany. The various bakeries show their creativity every day with all kinds of different loaves and rolls, so you can easily enjoy something different every day!
8. Everything is closed on Sunday
Shopping on Sunday? Impossible in Germany. Most of the shops are closed – the only exceptions are small shops at train stations or petrol stations. Originally, this was a religious rule, as Sunday, the Lord’s day, was a day of rest when one should not work. Now it is more of a tradition that people have valuable time for their families and hobbies. The Germans take the “no work” rule very carefully, so don’t try to mow your lawn on Sunday!
9. Cautiously ask Germans “How are you doing?” They take it literally
If you have a German co-worker or acquaintance and often wonder why you get a 15-minute monologue about the person’s health, financial situation and private life when you start with a simple “How are you?” , you are not the only one. The reason for this is that “How are you?” is not just a polite phrase in Germany. It is a serious question. People expect you to answer and talk about your life – like how your family is doing or what plans you have for Sunday afternoons. If you run into someone in the hallway at work and don’t want to get caught up in a long conversation, just say “Hello!” and go on.
10. Everyone in the sauna is naked
Germans feel much more comfortable naked than most other Europeans and Americans. Therefore, going to the sauna, a popular pastime in Germany, can be quite “interesting”. In the sauna everyone is naked (that’s why nudism is popular in Germany) and even swimming suits are not allowed for health reasons (whatever that means). But don’t worry, female readers: there is usually one day a week reserved for women.