Germany: Hip, cool, modern, serious…
The stereotypical German is neat, punctual and tends to be in a rather bad mood? These clichés have become obsolete since the 2006 World Cup. Germany’s image in the world has been changing rapidly for some years now and the best way to find out what Germany really is, is by taking a trip through the republic.
Germany and its capital – cool and hip
For younger people, Berlin is hip, iconic and simply cool – parties, boutiques and trends, that’s Berlin. Berlin makes the best of its fascinating history and presents it through its museums and exhibitions, by preserving the old structure of its buildings and tours to the most important places such as the Berlin Wall or Checkpoint Charly. The city offers an exciting mix of history and cosmopolitan present.
Germany and popular festivals
The Germans aren’t that famous as the party animals par excellence, but folk festivals can still be celebrated here: The Munich Oktoberfest is regarded as the world’s largest folk festival and the whole city is in a state of exception when guests from all over the world travel to Munich to experience the “Wiesn” experience.
Also the so-called fifth season, i. e. the carnival or Fasching is celebrated with great exuberance, especially in Mainz and Cologne, the carnival capitals in the Rhineland. You can go on a parade in costume, where the carnival cars roll through the streets and side roads. Beeing lucky, you can catch some sweets, that are thrown at all guest.
If you like it more comfortable, you can relax at home in front of the TV and watch the funny political speeches and shows on the couch. The wine festivals in autumn are less exuberant, with new and old wine being served. These usually take place in the wine-growing regions and are also something for epicures.
The Christmas markets are very cozy, for example in Cologne, Nuremberg or Hamburg, but also small villages organize their own Christmas or Advent market and Glühwein is a must there as well. All year round there are funfairs, Kirmes or church festivals to visit. Anniversaries such as the Hafengeburtstag in Hamburg are celebrated every year.
Upper class? A peek into the saucepan
Germany is the country of the Wurst and bread and Germans haven’t got the nickname “Krauts” for nothing. Although bakers and butchers offer an almost endless and delicious selection of breads and sausages, there is also an increasing number of vegetarians and vegans in Germany, so that the range of products for vegetarians is constantly expanding in supermarkets and grocery stores. German cuisine is not only schnitzel and fried pork, but it varies from region to region.
The best way to enjoy a culinary experience right across the country: from innumerable seafood dishes on the coasts to the famous Berliner Currywurst, which consists of either classic cooked sausage or bratwurst, to dumplings, onion tart, spaetzle, cucumbers, Black Forest ham and Kale or Spreewald pickles: The German cuisine is incredibly varied, but one thing it certainly isn’ t: light or intended to lose weight.
In the meantime, what Germans nowadays often eat is pizza, spaghetti and the doner kebab. In an upscale restaurant, you will also discover a lot of French influences and Italian, Greek, Indian, Thai and many other restaurants have established themselves in the cities and partly also in the countryside.
The land of poets and thinkers
For a long time, Germany was regarded as the country of culture. Goethe, Schiller, Kant, Heine, Handel, Grass – composers, poets and writers or philosophers shape the image of Germany abroad. However, most of these clever minds are the children of the 18th century, when the Enlightenment held sway in Germany, which, due to its rational basic attitude, is still a determining principle in the Federal Republic of Germany today.
Even today, Germany still has outstanding writers such as Daniel Kehlmann, Bernhard Schlink and Elfriede Schlink, who were awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2004.
Germans are keen theatre, opera and festivalgoers, where classics as well as new plays are staged. Traditional performances inspire the audience as well as courageous new productions. Opera houses and theatres can be found in every major German city, particularly classy are the houses of Wiesbaden, Frankfurt and of course the Semper Opera House in Dresden.
For those who like it more modern in terms of culture, a variety of concerts is offered – either in large arenas or small and intimate in special locations such as castles, wine cellars or in the open air.
German language – tough language?
German is an Indo-European language and therefore closely related to English, Danish, Dutch, but also Spanish or Italian by its grammatical structures. Over the centuries, German has taken up many influences from Latin, French and English so that one can quickly learn some German vocabulary.
Most of those who learn German are shocked by three grammatical genders, four cases and by many special rules, exceptions and strange expressions or idioms that have become established over the centuries. However, many Germans speak at least one foreign language, mostly English. In addition, Germans are enthusiastic learners of foreign languages. And if necessary, hands and feet also do it, because in the end you want to understand each other.
Germany’s history – and how to deal with it
The fact that Germany has many dark chapters of history to offer in the 20th century is not new. Dealing with this past is a very straightforward one: memorials, exhibitions and museums reappraise the era of National Socialism at all levels. Especially in recent years, some of those fascistic ideas have regained followers, but the majority of the population opposes them with demonstrations and other events. There are many ways to fight those trends, one of which is to display the cruelties caused by the Nazi regime.
Today, Germany has arrived in the middle of Europe and the population is largely committed to a more united Europe! The idea of European cooperation is also becoming increasingly strong in Germany and is gaining many fans all over the world.