Monday, December 5, 2011

German quirks? - I guess so...

I just read today an article from The Local, the English speaking online magazine in Germany. They give a quite accurate overview on what's going on Germany and it is very interesting for me as the jounalists are foreigners and this is their point of view, but - I have to say - always well researched. Anyway, I really feel the urge to comment on what they "detected".

For the sake of this post here, I copy their text to make sure, it will not disappear when their online article does.

1.) Eye contact when saying cheers
Fail to look someone in the eyes when you clink glasses, and not only are you rude but you will be punished with seven years of bad sex... or so the Germans believe.

I mean the eye contact thing.

2.) Melting lead on New Year's Eve to tell the future

After the New Year has been welcomed with a toast, party-goers in Germany often gather round to melt lead over candles. The molten metal is then poured into a basin of cool water, and hardens into a shape. The shape of this lead nugget is supposed to predict the year ahead.

I have no clue if that is an age thing or something regional. I put this myself in my post on New Year's Eve in Germany. I never did it myself and neither of my friends. But somehow everybody knows about it and they sell it in the shops between x-mas and New Year's eve.

3.) Saying hello to everyone in a lift, train compartment, shop... just one of those things in Germany.

REALLY?? What town is that?? I spent an eternity of my life in Spain. In Barcelona everybody says hello in the elevator in an office building. Hardly ever happened to me in Germany. Neither in super educated Düsseldorf, nor - and especially not - in Berlin.

4.) Schultüte on the first day of school 
On their first day of school, German children are presented with a big paper cone – the Schultüte - jammed full of goodies, in the hope that it’ll cushion the blow. Some universities have adopted this tradition recently, presenting students with cones filled with essentials such as energy drinks.

Oh yes!! It was wonderful. My mommy actually had made mine herself and I felt really special my first day at school. The Schultüte was a big fish and it had nearly my size :-) Look here!

Oh, btw: the universities gave cotton bags with "essential things" like... yes, also energy drinks and chewing gum and milk, etc. In some years they would make different bags for men and women. The guys also had condoms in and the girls some hygiene stuff ;-)

5.) Silent holidays
There are certain religious holidays in Germany when – horror of horrors - the sale of alcohol is restricted, and bars and clubs are shut. So find something else to do. 

What shall I say? Nobody wants to be religious, but everybody wants the holidays...

6.) Putting shoes out for Nikolaus
Before bedtime on December 5, children across the country are cleaning their shoes and putting them outside their doors. During the night, St. Nicholas, or Nikolaus, arrives and fills the boots with sweets and little presents. Only if the kids have been well-behaved that year, that is.

One of my favourites!

7.) Shaking hands
Many southern Europeans would think nothing of saying hello with a kiss. Germans, however, shake hands. Uncomplicated and with minimal margin for embarrassment, the humble handshake is exchanged between friends and strangers alike.

Well, yes. But in the younger generation this is changing at least among friends.

8.) Fire rolling
At Easter time, you can welcome back the sun German style by rolling a burning bale of hay down a hill. Dating from pre-Christian times, the fire wheel was a symbol of the return of summer. But now it’s done on other holidays as well.

I am not even familiar with the Eastern fire, but that is just me... now: what other holidays should have that?? It is also not only a German thing. The Dutch to do it and I think some other Northern Europeans as well. When I look at the Wikipedia article, then I see more languages and they are not talking especially about Germany.

09.) Knocking instead of clapping
In Germany clapping is reserved for the theatre, or a concert. In schools and universities, students knock on their desks instead of offering a round of applause, some academics even claim that clapping would be a sign of disrespect – as if the audience were trying to ridicule the lecturer. In some social circles, a person may also knock on the table to signal their arrival.

Yes. True. About the social circles I have never heard.

10.) Never throw a birthday party early
Throwing a birthday party before your actual birthday is a cardinal sin in Germany. Since Germans normally supply the cake and all the drinks, if you do throw a bash before the big day, you could end up with an empty wallet to go with your year's bad luck.

Got it! Exactly the way it is. If you are too early, they do not take it. If you are too late, even worse. It goes like this: "Hey, happy birthday, Peter!" - "It is on Monday, not today." So you are now expected to say that you are sorry for being too stupid to remember the exact birthday and now that you have been told, do not forget it again! 

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