Understanding the German culture better

German culture

Written by Germany Simplified

September 14, 2019

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Germany is one of the oldest countries in the world with a rich German culture. It was unified in 1871 and has been home to a beautiful culture, heritage, and history ever since then. The German way of life is exciting.

Everything from German art, literature, language and life itself has its uniqueness. It is one of the most powerful and influential European countries of the world both culturally and economically. Its influence is vast, and German culture is a fascinating study in itself.

 Language

German is the most commonly spoken language in Germany and is also the official language. Along with English and French, it is one of the three working languages of the European Union.

Along with German, there are also several minority languages spoken in Germany. These include Danish, Sorbian, North Frisian, and Saterland Frisian. As far as immigrant languages, the most used ones are Turkish, Arabic, Kurdish, Polish, Russian, and Balkan languages. While German is the language most associated with German culture, part of Germany’s culture appreciates other languages.

German has around 100 million people who are native speakers around the world, plus 80 million non-native speakers, although this figure fluctuates.

History

Germany’s vibrant history has influenced German culture and shaped it. Germany was once as a vital part of the Holy Roman Empire. Later, it became one of the most stable economies in the world. Berlin is its capital, but Hamburg, Munich, and Cologne are also among the main cities of Germany.

The estimates read that the average woman in Germany lives for around 83 years. The average man lives 79 years. The main religion is Christianity.

Over 95% of the residents of Germany speak the German language and can include standard German or any of its other dialects. However, the German state has recognised four minority languages. These are the Upper and Lower Sorbian, Romani, Danish as well as North and Saterland Frisian.

The German history is also muddled up in the World wars and Germany fought two of them, World War I and World War II. As a result of the second world war, there were two parts of Germany; East Germany and West Germany.

Dressing

The average German dress is typically western. Both men and women wear dark simple suits and shirts in the business context. However, each region of the country has its traditional costumes, which differ a bit from one another. In the state of Bavaria, the traditional attire for men is leather trousers that end just above the knee.

For women, it is a dress that incorporates a bodice, blouse, full skirt, and an apron. You can see people wearing these costumes, especially during carnivals or festivals. The transitional dress is an integral part of German culture.

German history and culture have influenced German attire. Germany had been home to many socio-political movements. Much of the cultural attire is a result of these movements. For instance, the stereotype that Germans drink a lot of beer came out from the social-political meetings that they had.

Bavaria and Munich focus more on Germany’s famous alpine and beer culture. Here the beer is traditionally served in a 1-litre mug. Historically, both Munich and Bavaria were capitals of the socio-political movements that had begun. Munich was where the Weimar Republic in Germany ended.

Festivals

If you’ve been to Oktoberfest, which are celebrated all over the world, you’re familiar with lederhosen and dirndls. Lederhosen, which means “leather trousers” in German, is the short, leather pants worn by men. These are usually knee-length and historically worn by working-class German men. The dirndl is a ruffled apron dress worn by German women. It consists of a bodice, or blouse, and a skirt.

In the 19th century, the dirndl was the standard uniform of servant girls. Today it is mostly worn in Bavaria and Austria, and like lederhosen, usually for celebration. Each of these garments is a type of tract, which historically was used to help identify people as members of special status (social, political or otherwise). In German culture, festivals and dress style intertwine together.

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The annual Oktoberfest is Europe’s most visited festival and the world’s largest fair. Germany’s south-western regions, however, are well known for their wine growing areas (e.g. Rheinhessen and Palatinate). Bad Dürkheim on the ‘German Wine Route’ (Deutsche Weinstraße) organises the most significant wine festival worldwide with over 600,000 visitors annually.

Please see our article here on some of the best fall festivals in Germany.

Social Norms

Germans place a high priority on structure, privacy, and punctuality. The German people embrace the values of thriftiness, hard work and industriousness. There is an excellent emphasis on making sure that “the trains run on time”.

Germans are stoic people who strive for perfectionism and precision in all aspects of their lives. They do not admit faults, even jokingly, and rarely hand out compliments. At first, their attitude may seem unfriendly, but there is a keen sense of community and social conscience and a desire to belong.

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the subsequent German Reunification in 1990 are the most significant events of recent German history. “German Unification Day”, celebrated on 3 October is a national holiday.

The German symbols have changed through different phases in history alongside the events that have shaped its culture and traditions. The eagle was part of the Holy Roman Empire, which after Prussia’s victory over Austria in 1886 has been shared by two different states.

Martin Luther and luminaries as Immanuel Kant, Johann Gottfried von Herder, and Johann Wolfgang Goethe are also essential figures and very contentious symbols. Today the most known symbol of the country is it’s black, red and gold flag, symbolising the unification and the struggle of German history.

Architecture

The country has gone through a tumultuous history, the signs of which are evident in its rich and diverse architecture. Its palaces, castles, cathedrals, and monuments best tell the story of Germany. Amphitheatres, spas and Roman bridges are part of the ancient architecture and the civilisation that bloomed in the territory that today is Germany.

The pre-romanesque architecture consists of churches as the Abbey Church of Saint Michael’s that dates back to the beginning of the 10th century. Whereas, during the Romanesque period, a lot of cathedrals were built, which have survived through time until today.

Germans have a strong tradition of printmaking by woodcut and engraving. There is also a strong representation of all phases of architecture — including Romanesque, Gothic, Classicist, Baroque, Rococo and Renaissance — represented in cathedrals, castles and public buildings.

Cuisine

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Germans love sumptuous, hearty cuisine. Each area of Germany has its definition of what a traditional meal is supposed to look. Pork is the most consumed meat, and Saumagen (pork stomach) are a couple of traditional pork dishes.

Cabbage, beets, and turnips are commonly incorporated into meals, as they are native to the region. Potatoes and sauerkraut are also stars of German cuisine. One of the most important aspects of German culture is their food, and they sure love to eat it.

Pork, beef, and poultry are the most common types of meat eaten in Germany. Throughout all of Germany, sausage form is the most common way of consuming meat. There are more than 1500 different types of sausage produced in Germany. Organic food is also becoming popular.

In Germany, breakfast is usually the most important meal, and dinner is the smallest meal. Breakfast is typically different pieces of bread and rolls with toppings like sweet jams or honey. Breakfast can also be cold cuts and cheese.

Because Germany is home to many immigrants, ethnic foods are also popular. Germany has adopted foreign dishes into its usual fare. International food chains are also common in larger cities.

Music

Germans have made tremendous contributions to classical music. The traditions of famous German and Austrian composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Richard Wagner, and Gustav Mahler live on today. This rich history of musical excellence is still an essential part of German culture today.

Germany is also home to more modern music as well. The country has had a strong influence on techno and rock music, and trance music pioneers in Germany. Many German bands are famous around the world, like Tokio Hotel, Rammstein, and Nena. Famous international film composer Hans Zimmer was also born in Germany.

Germany hosts many music festivals every year. These include the Rock am Ring festival, M’era Luna Festival, and Wacken Open Air.

Movies

Cinema has been an essential staple of German culture for many years. The German studio Babelsberg Film Studio is the oldest large-scale film studio in the world, having been founded in 1912. The very first major German sound film was The Blue Angel in 1930, directed by Josef von Sternberg and brought world fame to actress Marlene Dietrich.

The Nazi era even had its share of filmmaking, as Nazi propaganda films were incredibly popular. During the 1070s and 1980s, West German film became popular due to directors such as Werner Herzog and Wim Wenders.

Religion

Just over half of Germany’s population adheres to some form of Christianity. 30% are Roman Catholic, and another 29% are Protestant. Protestantism is more prevalent in the north and east, while the south and west are majority Catholic. Some cities have a non-religious majority.

After the Holocaust, the Jewish population dropped significantly but is steadily increasing. The German Jewish community now has about 100,000 members. There is also a substantial Muslim minority, primarily from Turkey.

Sports

Sports are incredibly popular in Germany. 27,000,000 Germans are members of a sports club. Football (called soccer in the United States) is the most popular sport.

The German Football Association is the largest sports organisation of it’s kind worldwide. The Bundesliga is Germany’s professional football league. Other popular sports are handball, volleyball, basketball, ice hockey, and tennis.

Motorsports are also very popular in Germany. Many racers and winning teams come from Germany. Germany’s auto industry also participates heavily in German car racing. Germany has also historically been a contender in many different Olympic Games events.

Conclusion

One article could not possibly wholly educate you about German culture. However, this article has armed you with the basics you need to know. The best way to learn about a culture is by immersing yourself in it.

Go out into Germany, wherever you live, and breathe in the culture however you can. Join a sports club, delve deeper into the language, or attend a music festival. These vast experiences will help shape your fantastic experience in Germany.

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