This category imparts cultural knowledge about Germany. I am writing here about everyday and special things. For people who have come to Germany for a certain period of time: Keyword integration. Or Germans with a recent migration history: Keyword assimilation. But also for Germans who cannot do anything with the concept of the German Leitkultur. Also for those interested in Germany and tourists who want a deeper insight. I know from people all over the world what the questions are that people ask about Germany. These are my inspiration.
The Messel Pit fossil site (Grube Messel) is part of the World Natural Heritage. Here I briefly describe what it is all about and give practical tips for a visit.
location and accessibility
Messel is a small town in the state of Hesse. Approx. 30 km from Frankfurt/Main and 10 km from Darmstadt. The Messel pit is outside the city, in an industrial and mining area. This can seem strange to a visitor at first if one expects a special place in nature. However, mining is the reason why the important natural treasures were found in the first place. The pit has a visitor center. It is easily accessible by car. It is not ideal by train, but it is also accessible. Messel train station is in the industrial area and there is also a bus. You can also walk from the train station to the visitor center in half an hour. You just have to follow the signs.
importance as a natural world heritage site
The Messel pit is called the “Pompeii of Archaeology”. A lot of fossils are excavated here, which are in a very good state of preservation. There is hardly anything like it anywhere in the world. The animals and plants are millions of years old. But there are no dinosaurs among them, because the fossils are from the time after. They look pretty familiar to us, but you don’t expect them to be in Central Europe. They are animals from the tropical forest. Crocodiles, prehistoric horses, turtles, insects, fish and small mammals. They all fell into a lake that existed millions of years ago and have been preserved. The lake no longer exists. Research is now being conducted on the prehistoric flora, fauna and climate.
In 1995 the Messel Pit was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Visitor center, visit and guided tours
The Messel Pit is a “research mine”. It is locked and cannot be entered easily. But you can take a guided tour. But these only happen a few times a day. The longer tours are on weekends. On weekdays you can join a short tour of about 1 hour. However, you should find out in advance when these will take place in order to plan your visit.
In the visitor center there is a modern exhibition on the world natural heritage. It is multimedia, there are films, audio stations and interesting exhibits. The texts on the boards are in German and English. Here everything is reduced to the essentials and easy to understand. You can spend one to one and a half hours here. It is a good starting point before going on a tour.
Why the World Heritage Site almost became a garbage dump
The recent history of the place is also interesting. Ore and oil shale were mined in the pit from 1859, from which oil could be extracted. Incidentally, one has always found fossils. In 1970 the mining of raw materials was stopped. There were plans to use the big “hole” as a waste deposit site. However, citizens opposed the plans and wanted to continue to enable fossil research. In the end they succeeded, but it was a very close decision. Where the visitor center was later built, the first construction work for the waste deposit site had already been completed. A concrete ledge where trucks would dump rubbish was incorporated into the visitor center building.
The town of Messel
If you are interested in fossils, you will find a museum in the town of Messel, that has only about 4000 inhabitants. It is a very quiet place with few options for shopping or eating/drinking. I was there on a Tuesday afternoon. I did not find an open restaurant or beer garden. For shopping or to experience something, most of the people drive to the big city of Darmstadt, which is only 10 km away. Only at the marketplace were there several people to see. You can hike a bit in the area, but don’t expect anything special. I ended up eating a doner kebab near the train station.
The Messel Pit Fossil Site is worth a visit for people who are interested in nature. There are no exciting dinosaur bones, but you still get a glimpse of life millions of years ago. You can also learn a lot about industrial history. Don’t expect an amusement park, but enjoy nature and science.
“Schrebergärten” oder “Kleingärten” sind für manche Ausländer, aber besonders für nichteuropäische erklärungsbedürftig. Davon habe ich nicht nur gelesen, sondern diese Erfahrung auch persönlich gemacht.
Scheinbar ist es für Beobachter von außen nicht ganz klar, ob es dauerhaft bewohnte kleine Häuser sind oder etwas anderes. Dabei sind keine Wohnungen für Arme und auch nicht einfach Wochenendhäuser. Es steht dahinter ein Phänomen, dass es Mitteleuropa weit verbreitet ist.
Um sie zu verstehen muss man in die Vergangenheit gehen. Im 19. und frühen 20. Jahrhundert, zur Zeit der Industrialisierung, zogen viele Leute vom Land in die Städte. Diese waren vom schnellen Bevölkerungs- und Wirtschaftswachstum geprägt. Überall entstanden neue Fabriken, die aber das Leben in den Städten schmutzig und unangenehm machten. Zumindest in den Vierteln der Arbeiter. Die Massen von Fabrikarbeitern wollten frische Luft, konnten sich aber keinen Urlaub leisten. Bis auf die Sonn- und Feiertage hatten sie gar keine freien Tage. Die Leute waren auf ihre engen Stadtwohnungen beschränkt. Außerdem wuchs die Bevölkerung sehr stark – das führte auch zu großer Armut. Die Ernährung der Armen war ein Thema.
Die Lösung waren kleine Gärten, in denen man sich erholen konnte und auch Obst und Gemüse für die eigene Ernährung anbauen konnte. Dafür musste nur eine geringe Miete (Pacht) bezahlt werden. Die einzelnen Gärten waren wie heute noch umzäunt und nebeneinander gestellt. Auf dem Grundstück befinden sich meist kleine Häuschen (“Lauben”). Die Kleingärtner organisierten sich in Vereinen. Die Kleingartenanlagen entstanden am Stadtrand. Später, durch das Wachstum der Städte wurden einige aber auch von ihr umschlossen.
Diese “Kolonien” oder “Siedlungen” waren viele nebeneinander liegende Gartenparzellen, mit gleicher Größe, Form und das Ganze war organisiert (in Vereinen). Sie passten also zur Moderne bzw. zur Industrialisierung. Man ist in der Masse aufgegangen – das war eine Entwicklung der Zeit. Gleichzeitig aber auch eine Art Gegenbewegung. Man hat ein Stück gesundes Landleben in der Industriestadt bekommen.
In der Mitte des 20. Jahrhunderts waren sie auch noch mal wichtig. Vor Allem nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg, als die Wohnungen knapp waren, durch Zuzug und Zerstörung, wurden manche Gärten auch dauerhaft genutzt. Die Phase des Wiederaufbaus war von großen Gebäuden für viele Bewohner geprägt. Auch da gab es ein Bedürfnis nach ein wenig Natur in der Großstadt…
Mit der Entwicklung der Wirtschaft/Gesellschaft und erweiterten Möglichkeiten wurden die Satzungen der Vereine immer wichtiger, denn mit der Individualisierung bestand auch die Gefahr, dass jeder sein eigenes Ding macht. Durch den Verlust der Gleichheit bestand die Gefahr, dass der Charakter der Siedlungen verloren geht. Dadurch werden die Satzungen streng durchgesetzt. Es mutet heute manchmal absurd kleinlich an die ganzen Regelungen durchzusetzen und aufrecht zu erhalten – Höhe von Hecken (damit man sich nicht abschottet…) und der Zwang Gemüse anzubauen (um den Charakter zu halten).
Die Bezeichnung “Schreber”-Gärten und andere Namen
“Schreber-” kommt vom einem Arzt aus Leipzig, “Moritz Schreber”. Der hat Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts eigentlich allgemein mit körperlicher Betätigung im Sinne der Gesundheit zu tun gehabt. Erst nach seinem Tod entwickelte sich aus seinen Ideen das Konzept des Schrebergartens. Kleingärten etc. Auch manchmal Datscha?
Gartenlaube -> das Haus darauf, manchmal aber auch Synonym zum Kleingarten.
Kleingärten werden üblicherweise verpachtet und nicht verkauft.
man muss in einen Kleingartenverein eintreten. Dieser stellt Regeln auf
Man darf nicht dauerhaft darin wohnen.
Es gibt genaue Vorschriften wie groß das Garten-Haus ist, das man bauen darf.
auch ist oft vorgegeben wie viel Fläche mindestens mit Gemüse angepflanzt werden darf. Auch die Höhe der Hecken ist streng geregelt.
Manche Siedlungen haben sich gewandelt. Die Leute haben (trotz Verbot) ihre Häuser immer mehr ausgebaut, so dass sie eigentlich kleine Wohnhäuser sind.
Manchmal liegen sie dort wo man überhaupt keine Entspannung vermuten würde: direkt an Bahngleisen oder Schnell-Straßen etc. Ich vermute der Grund der Platzmangel in den Städten.
Mit Fahnenmasten kann man sich ausdrücken. So sieht man Deutschland-Fahnen oder andere Fahnen mit denen die Leute sich verbunden fühlen.
Bedrohungen der Kleingarten-Kultur
Als die bestehenden Kleingärten-Kolonien vor Jahrzehnten gegründet wurden lagen sie meist am Stadtrand. Die Städte sind oft um sie “herumgewachsen” und liegen oft innerhalb der bebauten Flächen. Siedlungen in solchen Lagen sind heute oft begehrtes Bauland.
Früher, als Lebensmittel gemessen am Einkommen noch teurer waren hat das Selbst-Anbauen von Gemüse einen Vorteil gebracht. Heute kann man allerdings jedes Gemüse zu günstigen Preisen im Supermarkt kaufen. Auch ohne Gartenarbeit. Das Anbauen von eigenen Lebensmitteln ist heute also nicht mehr nötig, sondern ein Hobby. Es geht hauptsächlich um Erholung in den Gärten. Dadurch geht in manchen Regionen etwas von der ursprünglichen Kleingarten-Kultur verloren.
Allerdings muss man dabei bedenken, dass diese Kleingarten-Kultur eng mit der beschriebenen Industrialisierung verbunden ist. Die Kleingärten sind also ein Phänomen, das sich langsam wandelt.
Wie viele gibt es?
Es gibt in Deutschland fast 1 Million Kleingärten. In Ostdeutschland sind sie auf die Einwohnerzahl gerechnet aber 3 Mal so häufig wie in Westdeutschland. Das hat historische Gründe. Während der Teilung Deutschlands in zwei Staaten wurden in der DDR viele Wohnblöcke gebaut und für deren Einwohner wurden auch gleich Kleingarten-Kolonien angelegt. In den neuen Bundesländern gibt es rund 500 000 Gärten. In den alten Bundesländern genauso viele, obwohl dreimal so viele Menschen dort leben.
Insults or swear words – these are often the first words you learn in a language. I grew up not far from the German-Polish border. The first words I learned in Polish were “Kurwa” and “spir dalay”. With a Turkish friend, I pondered which groups are subsumed under “Kanaks”. Only Turks, or also Arabs or Persians?
Here I would like to write down a few common swear words and insults. I hardly use any of them myself. But I know them and write the words down without glossing over them.
Imagine: A French woman, a Danish woman, an Arab and a German sitting together and exchanging about insults in their countries. That’s how I went through a draft for this lexicon. Adult people have no problem talking about it. So please don’t get scared.
The words are always contextual. There are some that are neutral according to the dictionary. Depending on the situation, however, they have a pejorative meaning.
This list is purely scientific and only represents reality. It is subjectively commented and evaluated by me.
meaning of the colors
you can use them with friends and normally it won’t be understood personally (used in jokes)
words that can make people aggressive if you call them that way
depending on who you are insulting this way, you can get serious trouble…
this classification shows the scale of “negative respect”
Insults from people related to:
Insults can be divided into categories. By the way: I always use the masculine form. There is often only one masculine form of the word.
English: “idiot”: It is known in many languages. Idiocy was originally a medical diagnosis for people with thought disorders. Used today to insult someone for being stupid.
Like “Idiot”, but a little weaker. With an ironic undertone, you can also tell a friend “Du bist ein Depp!” (“You’re an Idiot!”) when you honestly want to say that they did something stupid.
Similar to Depp. Here, however, more that someone is clumsy.
literally “explosive head” :In the sense of “very conspicuously stupid”. “Knaller” can also be ironically positive.
This article is not translated further
Bezieht sich auf den Vornamen “Horst”, der aus der Mode gekommen ist.
(dieses Wort kann neutral oder als Beleidigung genutzt werden). Bezieht sich auf den Beruf Bauer oder Landwirt. Wird im Bezug darauf genutzt, dass Menschen aus ländlichen Gebieten ungebildet seien.
Von “Proletarier”, bezieht sich auch auf soziale Gruppen, denen man unterstellt sie seien ungebildet. Anders als beim “Bauer” hat der Begriff seinen Ursprung bei einfachen Arbeitern (in der Stadt).
Genutzt für Menschen in höheren Positionen, um sie als arrogant und weit entfernt vom einfachen Menschen darzustellen. Z.B. “Parteibonze”
Ähnlich wie “Bonze”. Aber eher für einen selbstgefälligen, reichen, arroganten Menschen. In anderen Sprachen: Google übersetzt es ins Englische als “prig”
Das klassische Schimpfwort für obdachlose Menschen. Von “pennen”, einem umgangssprachlichen Begriff für schlafen. Ein Penner ist jemand, der auf der Straße pennt/schläft. In anderen Sprachen: Google übersetzt es ins Englische als “jerk”
Ein dauerhaft Arbeitsloser. Meist im Kontext von ungebildeten Leuten, die zuhause sitzen, evtl. tagsüber trinken und rauchen. Kommt von “Hartz4”, dem umgangssprachlichen Begriff für das Arbeitslosengeld 2, welches Langzeitarbeitslose zur Unterstützung bekommen. “Einen auf Hartz IV machen” ist die abfällige Umgangssprache für “Von Hartz 4 leben”. Kann aber auch selbstironisch genutzt werden.
Wie ein weiches Ei… D.h. schwach, ängstlich, also jemand der sich etwas nicht traut. Man kann jemanden sagen “Du bist ein Weichei!” wenn man jemanden dazu bringen möchte sich etwas zu trauen.
auch jemand “weiches”. Weich wie eine Frau, oder besonders weiche Frau
Jemand Unselbstständiges. Jemand, der davon abhängig davon ist was die Mutter sagt. Gilt für Kinder und auch für erwachsene (Männer).
Kurzform und Umgangssprache für “Alkoholiker”. Bei unteren soziale Schichten genutzt.
Wie “Alki”, aber nicht in allen Regionen genutzter Ausdruck. Bezieht sich auf “Saufen” als vulgäres Wort für “(Alkohol) trinken”. Aus dem hochdeutschen Sauf-Kopf (was niemand nutzt) wird Suff-Kopp.
Jemand, der besonders viel Angst hat. (Jemand, der sich vor Angst “in die Hose scheisst”)
Ursprünglich ein unehelich geborenener Sohn. Diese eigentliche Bedeutung spielt heute keine Rolle, denn in der deutschen Mehrheitsgesellschaft sind Kinder, die nicht in einer Ehe geboren wurden nichts moralisch Verwerfliches mehr wie noch vor vielen Jahren. Das Wort wird aber noch benutzt, weil es mit “minderwertig, verkommen, ehrenlos” verbunden wird.
Vergleiche mit Tieren
Sehr allgemein als Beleidigung genutzt. Geht auf das Klischee zurück, das Schweine sehr unsauber sind (Was aber tatsächlich nicht stimmt). Mit einer Verbindung mit Schwein oder Sau (weibliches Schwein) damit kann man aus einem neutralen Begriff eine Beleidigung machen: “Bayern-Schweine” (Fussball, FC Bayern), “Schweine-System” (meist von Linksextremisten gebraucht)…
“Kuh” als schwerfälliges Tier wird auch als Schimpfwort für Frauen benutzt. Oft wird es dann von Frauen für andere Frauen benutzt.
Wenn man jemand als “leicht Verrückten” bezeichnen möchte. Kann auch rassistisch genutzt werden, um jemanden zu entmenschlichen.
Um Jemanden als hinterlistig und schmutzig zu beleidigen.
Beleidigung und abfälliges Wort für Polizisten. Im Englischen “cop” oder “pig”
Vorrangig durch türkisch/arabische Migranten benutzt. “Du Hund!”
eine hinterlistige Frau
hauptsächlich durch Kinder benutzt, um andere Kinder abzuwerten, die eine Brille tragen
“Köter” ist eine “Beleidigung” für Hunde. Für Menschen wird sie üblicherweise nicht genutzt.
Sau-…, aber auch Schweine-… sind Verstärker, also positiv oder negativ (saugeil, saugut, schweinekalt, saukalt)
“Schlampe”, “Nutte”, Hure
abfällige Bezeichnung für das primäre weibliche Geschlechtsorgan, das auch als starkes Beleidigung für die ganze Frau genutzt wird.
“Tunte”, “Homo”, “schwul”
verliert langsam beleidigenden Charakter
abfällige Bezeichnung für Schwule/ homosexuelle Männer. Wird allerdings oft auch für nicht-homosexuelle Männer benutzt und hat eine ähnliche Bedeutung wie “Weichei” oder “Pussy”
besonders abfällige Bezeichnung für Schwule/ homosexuelle Männer.
Schmutz / Fäkalien
eine häufig benutzte “Standard-Beleidigung”
Scheiße, bzw. Scheiß-“…”
Kann als Adjektiv benutzt werden oder etwas beliebiges wird als “Scheiß” bezeichnet. Oft auch als Zusammensetzung mit normalen Worten. Beispiel: “Auto” ist ein neutrales Wort. Mit “Scheiß-Auto” drückt man aus, dass es ein schlechtes Auto ist.
selbes Prinzip wie “Scheiß…” (Drecks…) Verstärkung wie Sau/Schwein Für …Schlampe, …sau, …schwein Beispiel: Drecksfotze. Aber auch Dinge wie “Drecksauto”, “Dreckstür”, Dreckssoftware etc.
Mist, Mist…, Miststück
“Mist” ist funktioniert genauso wie Dreck oder Scheiß. Ist aber etwas schwächer. Sehr verbreitet ist das Wort “Miststück” – eine typische Beleidigung von Frauen für Frauen.
Herkunft / Ethnie / Rasse
Beleidigung für Einwanderer aus dem vorderasiatischen Raum, besonders für Türken in Deutschland. Wird von Türken auch als identitätsstiftende Selbstbezeichnung benutzt (ähnlich wie “Nigger” in den USA benutzt). Das Wort hat seinen Ursprung als Selbst-Bezeichnung von Südsee-Völkern und ist wohl durch die europäische Kolonisierung dort nach Europa gekommen. Wie das Wort genau verbreitet wurde und wie es zur Beleidigung wurde ist unbekannt. Für Interessierte: https://www.welt.de/kultur/article154409100/Wie-Kanake-zum-rassistischen-Hasswort-wurde.html
“Kartoffel” / “Hans”
Deutsche (von Türken und Türkeistämmigen für Urdeutsche benutzt)
Ähnlich wie “Kartoffel” / “Hans”. Bedeutet eigentlich nur “Deutscher” auf türkisch bzw. arabisch. Es wird von Türken, Türkeistämmigen und Arabern aber auch so benutzt, dass Urdeutsche abfällig/verächtlich/respektlos benannt werden. In den letzten Jahren wird er aber manchmal auch von Deutschen ohne Migrationshintergrund genutzt, um eine bestimmte Gruppe von Deutschen zu bezeichnen. Für “verweichlichte, über-tolerante, nette Deutsche, die sich nicht wehren, wenn man sie angreift oder beleidigt”. Also die Gruppe, die tatsächlich dem Klischee entspricht, das viele Einwanderer aus dem Nahen und Mittleren Osten von Deutschen haben.
für Schwarze, “Nigger” als englisches Wort ist selten. Das Wort “Neger” (engl. “negro”) ist schwer zu beurteilen. Es erlebt gerade einen Wandel. Früher allgemein und heute bei einem Teil der Bevölkerung (meist Ältere) ist es nicht als Beleidigung gemeint, sondern (wenn auch leicht abfällig) als Wort für Schwarze. Mehr und mehr wird es aber als Beleidigung definiert.
Neutrales Wort, das als Schimpfwort benutzt werden kann. “hinterhältig”, sehr politisch unkorrekt. Wird aber noch benutzt, oft von Türken/Arabern oder Staatsbürgern mit arabisch/türkischem Hintergrund
eigentlich für Neonazis und Rechtsextreme, wird aber oft benutzt um jemanden zu diffamieren oder anzuschuldigen. Unterstellung von Rassismus (von Europäern)
für Asiaten. Daneben gibt noch das Wort “Fidschi”, dass in Ostdeutschland genutzt wird.
“Spaghetti” / “Itacker”
In Österreich ein beleidigender Ausdruck für Deutsche. (“Piefke” war ein deutscher Komponist?!)
In Bayern für alle Nicht-bayerischen Deutschen. Früher ernst, heute eher ironisch
für Baden-Würtemberger (nur Badener?) -> historischer Ursprung. Heute aber keine starke Beleidigung.
Behinderungen und Aussehen
bezieht sich ursprünglich auf das Down-Syndrom (abgeleitet von Bezeichnung)
von Spastiker, heute ist die Bedeutung meist aber nicht mehr bekannt, wird wie “Idiot” genutzt
Neutrales Wort, das als Schimpfwort benutzt werden kann. “Du bist doch behindert!”
auf Aussehen bezogen, “fette Kuh”
Ursprünglich religiöse Wörter und Sonstiges
religiöser Ursprung, heute veraltet
“Gesochs”, “Pack”, “Abschaum”
Es gibt noch so viele mehr, aber für die einen bin ich zu alt, andere sind regional und andere habe ich noch nie gehört.
Die Beleidigungen, die ich hier aufgezählt habe werden genutzt, indem man sagt dass jemand … ist. Genauso wie für Menschen gilt das auch für Tiere und Dinge.
Z.B. “Du bist ein Arschloch!”
Daneben gibt es noch “beleidigende Ausdrücke”
“Fick dich!” (Kurzform von “Fick dich selbst!”) -> Wie das englische “Fuck you!” (auch die Englische Version wird in Deutschland genutzt, gefühlt noch häufiger)
“Ich ficke Dich!”, “Ich ficke… deine Mutter/Freunde/etc.!”, so wie “Ich mache dich fertig!”-> im Sinne von jemanden etwas Schlechtes antun (z.B. schlagen) -> hier gibt es aber unzählige Ausdrücke, die das gleiche meinen, die aber mehr oder weniger vulgär sind
“Verpiss Dich!” -> vulgär für “Geh weg!” oder “Verschwinde!”. Wenn man über andere redet (“Er hat sich verpisst”) dann bedeutet dass, dass die Person sich still/heimlich/aus Angst entfernt hat. (Dieser Ausdruck kommt aus der Militärsprache -> dazu mehr in einem anderen Beitrag), Englisch “piss off!”
Straftatbestände, Urteile und Strafen
Beleidigung (von Einzelpersonen) (Paragraf 185 des Strafgesetzbuches) In diesem Paragrafen steht nicht viel, auch wird dort nicht definiert was eine Beleidigung ist. Man kann es erkennen wenn man sich Gerichtsurteile ansieht. Ob etwas eine Beleidigung ist (oder nicht) wird also vor Gericht, von Richtern festgestellt. Wer sich beleidigt fühlt muss also erst einmal eine Anzeige erstatten. Der Paragraf 185 StGb besagt, dass eine festgestellte Beleidigung mit Gefängnis bis maximal einem Jahr oder mit einer Geldstrafe bestraft werden muss. Wenn bei einer Beleidigung auch eine körperliche Handlung (Ohrfeige, Anspucken etc.) dazukommt wird das Strafmaß höher. Dann sind es maximal 2 Jahre Gefängnis. (Eine Strafe wegen Beleidigung läuft aber immer auf eine Geldstrafe hinaus, ich habe noch nie von einer Gefängnisstrafe wegen Beleidigung gehört)
Volksverhetzung (Beleidigung von “Minderheiten”) (Paragraf 130 des Strafgesetzbuches) Gegen Beleidigung von Personen und ganze Bevölkerungsgruppen (Herkunft, Rasse, Ethnie, Religion). Zum Beispiel wenn jemand alle Schwarzafrikaner beleidigt. Der Artikel bezieht sich aber ausdrücklich auf Minderheiten-Gruppen. Deutsche fallen nicht darunter, so dass der Paragraf auch kritisiert wird. Es gibt zum Beispiel ein Gerichtsurteil in dem gesagt wird, dass eine Beleidigung von Deutschen nicht unter diesen Artikel fallen kann. Im “Köterrasse”-Fall hat ein Türkeistämmiger in einem Twitter-Post alle Deutschen als “Hundeclan”/”Köterrasse” (anders gesprochen Rasse von dreckigen Hunden) bezeichnet. Dies wurde in Hamburg nicht als “Volksverhetzung” gewertet. Würde aber ein Deutscher türkischstämmige Bürger so beleidigen, also im umgekehrten Fall wäre es eine Straftat.
Zusätzlich werden damit positiver oder relativierende Äußerungen zu bestimmten Verbrechen im Nationalsozialismus (1933-1945) abgedeckt. So auch, wenn man den Holocaust leugnet – d.h. zu behaupten dass er nicht stattgefunden hat. Viele Straftaten bezüglich dieses Paragrafen beziehen sich auf dieses Themenfeld.
Ausdruck von Ärger
“Scheiße!”, “Verdammt!”, “Mist!”, “So ein Scheiß…” sind Ausdruck von Ärger. Sie sind keine Beleidigungen gegen Personen, sondern so etwas wie “Beleidigungen von Situationen oder Dingen”.
“Verflixt!” oder “Kruzifix!” sind Beispiele für Ausdrücke, die heute veraltet sind. Sie werden meistens nur noch ironisch benutzt.
Diese Ausdrücke führen uns aber schon in ein anderes Thema. Das allgemeine Thema der “vulgären Sprache”. Dies werde ich aber in einem anderen Beitrag behandeln.
One of the first questions I asked my friend David from Australia when I met him was: “Which bank do you have your account at?”. This was because I bought shares from Australian banks shortly before (I was actually a co-owner of his Australian bank). We often exchange ideas about stocks, cryptocurrencies and the like. At the beginning I talked to him about accounts at German banks. Then, in the middle of the Corona stock market crash, we talked about the opportunities for investments. That was the impetus to write about stocks and stock culture in Germany.
How does a stock work?
Companies have owners. If there are several owners, then each has a certain share. How property rights are organized is very different. Companies based on stocks are one way of doing this (stock: german “Aktie”).
Public companies (based on stocks) are divided into thousands or millions of shares. So a share is a (tiny) part of the company. They are traded on exchanges, so they can be easily bought and sold. And this by everyone (people or other companies). Unlike other companies, you do not need complex purchase contracts and agreements.
Example: Company X consists of 100 million shares. (A person with brown hair has about 110,000 hairs on their heads. That would be the number of hairs of 909 people)
Businesses (if things go well) have profits. The management of the company makes a proposal as to how much of it should be paid to the shareholders. The shareholders jointly decide whether the money will be distributed to everyone. The money goes straight to the account. In Germany, this typically happens once a year, around April and May.
Example: You own a share that is worth € 100. The dividend is set at € 3. Then € 3 will be paid into your own account.
Annual general meeting (Hauptversammlung)
The “general meetings” usually take place in spring / summer. It’s like “the company’s parliament” in which fundamental decisions are taken. You have one vote with each share. You will be invited there, even with just one share. You can also submit your own applications and ask the board questions that they have to answer. So it’s actually like a democratic parliament. The difference is that not every person has the same voting right, but the person has as many voting rights as they own shares.
In Germany you pay taxes on income. Income can be: wages / salary, interest received or dividends (investment income). The tax rates are different. Whoever earns more also pays a higher percentage. The tax can be deducted immediately for investment income. You then pay 25% on profits and dividends.
Example profit: You buy a share for € 100 and later sell it for € 120. That is € 20 profit. Of this you pay 25% -> 5 €. There are 15 € left as your own profit.
Example dividend: With a dividend of € 3 that is € 0.75 tax. That leaves € 2.25.
Up to € 801 per year are tax free. If you can only invest a little bit, you don’t have to pay any taxes. To do this, you have to state the “Freistellungsauftrag” (exemption order) at the bank. https://www.finanztip.de/freistellungsauftrag/
If you have 20 shares in company X, you get 20 x € 3 = € 60. Without tax deduction If you have 300 shares, you get € 900. He has to pay taxes of € 99 (€ 24.75). This leaves € 875.25
Don’t worry: you don’t have to do the math yourself. The bank does it for you!
With German shares, there are sometimes two types of shares for a company. These have the addition “Vz.” or “St.”
“St.” -> Stammaktien: ordinary shares. These shares have voting rights at the general meeting.
“Vz” -> Vorzugsaktien: preference shares. Those who own these shares have no voting rights at the general meeting. As compensation, a little more dividend must be paid by law. (They are more interesting for small investors because they are usually much cheaper and small investors hardly want to be active in corporate policy).
How do I buy stocks?
You need a stock deposit. The shares that you own are listed there with their number, purchase price, current price etc. You can create buy and sell orders (in german also “Order”) with which shares or other securities can then be bought / sold. Fees also apply. For a purchase / sale you pay around 10 €. Very cheap providers start from € 4.
You can either open the deposit at a bankor use a special platform (online broker).
For recommendations at which bank or provider you should open it, you should have a look at finanztip.de: https://www.finanztip.de/wertpapierdepot/ (in german). Finanztip is an indipendent foundation for consumer information on financial topics.
Funds: You buy shares either individually or in funds. Funds are a package of stocks. You buy shares in the package. This has the advantage that you have shares in many different companies. That lowers the risk and you don’t need a lot of clue about the individual companies. “ETFs” are very popular with the funds because the fees are not high there.
saving plans: Its when you automatically invest a certain amount of money lets say every month 100€. Then you buy an etf on an average price over time. You dont have the risk to invest all your money when the price is high. And you dont have to care because its automatically. Usually you can stop or change it when you want. Its called saving plan, because you normally have an plan like “in 15 years I want to have invested an amount of X€). There is also an tax-free “help” of employers for this (if they offer it). Its around 20€ per month. “Vermögenswirksame Leistungen”. These are just possible with some ETFs. And not to forget: its with less fees than buying ETF’s each month.
How common is ownership of shares in Germany?
Unlike in other comparable countries, very few hold shares in Germany at all. This is attributed to historical experience: loss of assets during hyperinflation in the 1920s, losses due to war, at the end of which financial assets were less important than food and other means of exchange, and losses in the past 20 years. State-owned companies were privatized in the 1990s and it was promoted that private individuals invested in them. For example, the Telekom share. They had bought a lot of them, but after the dot-com bubble burst (stock market crash in 2000) the shares fell and have not recovered since then. For many, that was when they started buying stocks. They have had bad experiences and never touched stocks again. At the same time, the money in the account brought in even more money – and without risk than interest. Germans are simply concerned with more security and less risk. Returns should be guaranteed, even if they are low.
Another factor is that the welfare state is so extensive that it was not necessary to build up private financial assets for old-age provision for a long time. The pension has always worked. The state redistributes a lot of money. Therefore, the individual has less to provide for on his own. As a result, there was no need for equity investments for a long time. It has only become apparent in recent years that it is no longer working as well due to demographic change. Less and less young people have to pay for more and more older people. But people still haven’t realized how important e.g. Shares are. (The same principle also leads to the fact that many people live for rent and do not own the apartment themselves. Tenants have comparatively many rights in Germany. Therefore, you don’t need a condominium to protect yourself from the arbitrariness of landlords.)
Who owns shares?
In Germany, stocks are associated with speculation and the extremely wealthy. It is hardly seen that it is simply shares in companies. Anyone can participate in their profits.
Many German companies are very successful and operate internationally. But more than half of the DAX companies have foreign owners.
Only 11% of Germans own shares. Most of them are pensioners. They hardly have any younger ones, and most people hardly know how it works.
Which companies are based on shares?
Companies that are owned by several people are simply described as “societies”. A distinction is made between partnerships and corporations. A corporation exists theoretically independent of the people who own it. It is actually “a lot of money that someone owns”. Companies have a legal form, it is the external form of this “pile of money”. Shares issueing companies with a specific legal forms are:
AG The classic German legal form is the “Aktiengesellschaft”, abbreviated “AG”.
SE Societas Europaea – SE is also widespread among very large companies. This is a legal form in the EU. This makes it easier to operate in the various EU countries.
public limited company (abbreviated plc) -> UK, Ireland (Vodafone plc …)
corporations (abbreviated Inc. oder Corp.) -> USA/Canada (Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp. …)
“Société Anonyme” (abbreviated S.A. oder SA) -> France, Belgium (AXA S.A., L’Oréal S.A. …)
Examples of listed companies
Car manufacturers and suppliers
large premium manufacturer
large premium manufacturer
the largest car maker in the world
the largest real estate company in Germany
Energy services, renewable energies and nuclear power plants
Large energy supply company (electricity and gas)
operates solar and wind farms
Deutsche Telekom AG
Market leader in Germany
Telefónica Deutschland Holding AG
Subsidiary of the Spanish Telefónica in Germany. Most popular brand is O2.
also has the brands mobilcom debitel, gravis, klarmobil etc.
The largest chemical company in the world in terms of sales. The head office is in Ludwigshafen am Rhein. There you can take part in a free visit to the largest chemical production site in the world.
One of the world’s leading companies for industrial gases and plants. After a merger the legal seat in Ireland as “plc”.
Henkel AG & Co. KGA
Produces for example laundry detergent. Brands are e.g. Pritt, Persil, Pril etc.
Hugo Boss AG
Optician, market leader in Germany
Machines, plants, technology
turbines, power plants etc.
World market leader for vehicle washes
builds wind turbines
builds armaments like tanks
banks and insurance companies
Market leader for insurance in Germany
Transport and logistics
Deutsche Post AG
Parcel and postal services. Including DHL
Aviation (also GermanWings, EuroWings and others)
CTS Eventim AG & Co. KGaA
Tickets for concerts, etc
provides ingredients for cooking at home
ProsiebenSat.1 Media SE
TV channels and online platforms
Borussia Dortmund GmbH & Co. KGaA
Commercial part of the football club
Zoologischer Garten Berlin AG ISIN: DE0005031801
The Berlin Zoo is a public limited company. Founded in 1844. It is the oldest in Germany and the ninth oldest in the world.
Exchanges and indices
Exchanges are trading venues on which securities or raw materials are traded. All of this is now done electronically, all over the world. But there are also real places that have meaning. Such as. Wall Street in New York where the “New York Stock Exchange” is located. The most famous stock exchange in Germany is Frankfurt.
Stock indices show the development of many individual stocks. With just one number, you can tell whether an entire industry or company in a country is losing or gaining value. The best known is the “Dow Jones Industrial Average” or “Dow Jones” for short, which shows the 30 largest companies in the USA. The “Deutsche Aktien Index”, or “DAX” for short, is known in Germany. But there is more:
DAX -> for large companies
MDAX -> for medium-sized companies
TecDax -> for technology companies
SDAX -> for “small” companies
My personal view on the importance of stocks
I myself have built up a little knowledge over the years and invest in stocks myself. I am invested in most of my examples. But I leave it at very classic stock purchases and do not “bet” or speculate. I buy shares in companies that I am confident in business and that pay a good dividend. I want to be part of the profits in the long term. It is retirement provision and an exciting hobby at the same time.
With shares, everyone can participate in the global economy. And not just as a consumer, but also as a producer. You don’t need to buy an entire company or property, you can do it in small units. For example, if you don’t have the money to buy and rent an entire house, you simply buy a share in a real estate company. This also does all the bureaucracy and you get dividends directly into your account. Or you can buy shares from your own mobile operator, for example. So you can get back the money that you pay annually as fees as profit distributions. You are a customer of your “own company”.
In conclusion, stocks are a means of democratizing the economy. They are perfect so that property and profits are not in the hands of a few, but as many people as possible.
Peteris, my friend from Latvia, likes Bavarian folk festivals (Volksfest) like I do. In 2018 we visited as many festivals as possible. We looked for the dates on the Internet and “tested” them. We called it our “Volksfest-scouting”! It inspired me to offer something like a crash course for Bavarian festivals. Because there is a lot more to know than drinking large amounts of beer 🙂 Here I describe the cultural background, what’s going on there and give practical advices.
Folk festivals and Bavarian folk festivals
There are actually folk festivals all over Germany. In the federal state of Bavaria, however, a special style has emerged. What is special about the Bavarian folk festivals are the large marquees (“Festzelt”) with their 1 liter beer mugs (“Bier-Krug”), Bavarian music, typical food and the well-known traditional clothes (“Tracht”: Dirndl and Lederhose). The Oktoberfest in Munich is only the largest and best known, but there is a number of such festivals. Outside of Bavaria, however, most people only know the Oktoberfest. I myself had little idea of these festivals before I moved to Bavaria.
Where and when?
Except for the winter time, the folk festivals take place all over the year. They last between 1 and 3 weeks. Some cities also organize them several times a year, at different seasons, like in spring and summer. They are everywhere, even in smaller places. The bigger the place, the more its folk festival is similar to the Oktoberfest in Munich. For the recent years, festivals in this style are organized throughout Germany in autumn and are also called “Oktoberfest”. The Oktoberfest in Munich is the prototype of them. But the “originals” can still only be found in Bavaria.
Why? / Occasion
Volksfeste generally have a historical origin. Mostly it was an annual market or a religious festival. Very often it was the anniversary of the inauguration of the local church (“Kirchweih”). Food and drinks were also sold. But not only that. In the past, you couldn’t always buy everything everywhere. Traders have moved across the country to offer their goods. So they often came to the town for annual festivals. The dealers held a fair (“Messe”). Kirche (Church) + Messe (fair) = “Kirchmesse” (an fair that tooks place at a church festival). This word became “Kirmes” (the nowadays meaning is “fun fair”). Both are partly synonymous with a folk festival. Typically for Germany: There are innumerable terms of their own due to the dialects for “Kirchmess” and “Kirmes”. At the Oktoberfest in Munich, however, the origin is different. There was a wedding of the King of Bavaria, at which there were also celebrations for the “normal” people. That later became a tradition.
At many of these festivals, the origin has faded into the background. Over years, often centuries. The festival has turned from the secondary aspect (food an fun) to the actual event we know today.
A Volksfest (folk festival) is a festival for the general people, i.e. for everyone. Today of course there are people who like it and others who don’t like it. Everyone has to decide for themselves, but you should make your own judgment about it.
Separation into two parts in a fair (outside) and marquee (inside)
To put it simply, a Volksfest consists of two parts. The first part is the “rides and booths” (Fahrgeschäfte und Buden). This is the basis of all folk festivals. It is simply about fun and pleasure. There are rides, games and snacks. The second part is the marquees (Festzelt) or beer gardens. Their style is what makes the Bavarian festival special. Depending on the size of the festival, there is a single large “beer tent” or there are several. Here you can comfortably eat and drink during the day. In the evening it becomes a “party tent”. Incidentally, the folk festivals are always set up at fixed locations, every time anew. The rest of the year the fairground is used differently, e.g. as a parking lot.
Rides and booths
This part is actually a portable amusement park. During the day it is a place for families. In the evening, when it is dark, it is a fun area for everyone. The great thing is that you can discover a lot, when you are a child. When you are grown up and maybe a little bit drunk, you can feel like a child again.
Games (e.g. air rifle shooting, small lotteries, ball throwing, ring-the-bell…)
food stalls (“Fressbuden”) – these are small, portable sales stands where snacks are sold: sweet, fatty and so on. It is delicious fast food for in between
There are rides and booths all over Germany. Even marquees. At Bavarian folk festivals, however, they are the core of the whole event. These tents can be transported, but they are set up over weeks. Several thousand people can fit in. There are very typical benches and tables made of wood and steel. They are simple, but very stable. They have many names: “Bierbänke” (beer benches), “Biertische” (beer tables) or as a set also “Festzeltgarnituren” (marquee sets). In the middle of the tent, they are simply set up in a row, so that as many people as possible find space. The guest areas on the sides of the tent are the “Boxen” (boxes). They are often divided into smaller compartments, sometimes a little bit higher then ground level. There are fewer people walking past the tables. So it’s more comfortable (“gemütlich”). The catering facilities are on the sides of the tent. There are also seats outside the tents. It has more of the atmosphere of a beer garden. It’s easier to find places there, but when you sit there you don’t hear the music inside the tent. Inside is the stage on which the live band plays.
Eating and drinking inside the marquee
The typical drink is of course beer! This tasty and diverse drink is firmly linked to German culture. Especially with the Bavarian marquee culture. So much so that the Bavarian folk festivals abroad are simply called “Beerfest”.
You use beer mugs (“Bierkrug/Bierkrüge”). These hold 1 liter of liquid. A “Krug” (beer mug oder pitcher) is something bigger than a “Glas” (glass). Today they are usually made of glass, but earlier they were made of stoneware / ceramic. These traditional stoneware jugs (“Steinzeug-Krug”) are actually better for the beer because they keep it cooler. The advantage of the glass variant is that you can see whether the host has filled in the correct amount of beer and not too much foam.
To order, you just say “Eine Mass, bitte” (A beer mug, please). Then you get the standard liter. If you want to take it smaller, order “Eine Halbe” (a half). That’s half a “Mass”, half an liter. Bavaria pronounce “Mass” with a short “a”. All other Germans who do not know their way around use a long “a”. You don’t need to be afraid of a whole liter of beer: I experienced myself, that you somehow can drink more in a beer tent than anywhere else. At least I do. My theory is that the “Festbier” is particularly easy to drink. It is sweeter, not bitter like Pils beer. In addition to the “Festbier” (festival beer), there are also other types of beer, or “Radler” (mixed with lemonade) or non-alcoholic beer.
The price for a liter is about 9-12 €. That sounds a lot, but you get a whole liter for it! Compared to the beer prices in Western and Northern Europe, this is still normal. In general, the bigger the festival, the higher the prices.
If someone doesn’t drink beer, then it’s totally okay to drink something else. There is also a large selection of other drinks. As in the beer garden, you also get soft drinks, water, juices, wine etc. The most important thing is that you have something in your Hand to toast!
The food is relatively expensive (10-20 €), but necessary. If you drink a lot, you also have to eat a lot! There are hearty Bavarian dishes, pastries and vegetables (tavern food, “Wirtshaus-Essen”). Half a chicken (“Hendl”), knuckle or pretzel is typical. Not everyone likes that, so there are also foods like burgers and fries. You also get vegetarian food. In the middle of the tent you should have finished eating by 5/6 p.m. From my own experience I can confirm that it is very difficult to eat from a plate between dancers.
About the service: You sit down and wait for the waiter/waitress. Often, however, you can also get food and drink at the edge of the tent, at the counter. If you are unsure, just ask there.
Music in the marquee
When the tent is still empty, sometimes music is not played. In the afternoon, usually until 6 p.m., Bavarian or Austrian folk music (Alps, brass band) is often played. This is the “gemütlich” (cozy) time.
In the evening there is a live band. This is not intellectually demanding, it is party music. It is important that it is well known so that people can sing along. Mostly German music is played, often from the 80s and 90s. But also there is well-known music with English lyrics, often classics like “ACDC” or “Backstreet Boys”. The music spectrum ranges from rock to pop, from old to current songs. The band sometimes takes a break of 15-30 minutes. Then a DJ plays music. In time, if you want to meet members of the band (for example at the toilet) you can wish for your own songs! Later, towards the end, a lot of music from the 80s is played. The “Neue Deutsche Welle” (german New Wave vor the 80s) plays a special role here.
The band animates to celebrate and drink. In addition there are “Trinksprüche” (toasts, cheers) from the singer, in which the audience participates. Here are the classics:
Band (slow): “Ein Prosit… ein Prosit… der Gemütlichkeit!” (Like “cheers to coziness!” This is an extended version of the “Prost!” (Cheers!) In the end, everyone cheers with everyone he/she can reach)
Band (fast): “Zicke Zacke! Zicke Zacke!” Audience replies (fast): “Oi, Oi, Oi!” (To be honest, I don’t know the meaning)
Band: “Prost Ihr Säcke!” Audience replies: “Prost du Sack!” (“Sack” is an insult. The band’s singer insults the audience. In response, the audience insults the singer. -> Then they are quitt)
The marquee is typically open from noon. There is often plenty of space until late afternoon. It is a comfortable mood: you can eat and talk. Cards are also played etc. (Exception is the Munich Oktoberfest at weekends)
It gets louder in the evening. The people who are far from the stage usually sit. In the middle and close to the stage there is dancing on the benches from 5 to 7 p.m. until the end. It’s drinking, dancing and having fun. The atmosphere there is somewhere between a club and a festival in the village. You have to experience it yourself, preferably with 4-10 friends.
When you get into a tent it is not uncommon that there are no tables left. You then ask whether you can sit with others. If you ask long enough you are sometimes lucky. People keep the seats free for acquaintances. It can take a long time to find a place. But you can have a look at the whole tent. When you sit down at the table with others, you quickly come into contact with your neighbors. A common “cheers!” and you are a community. It’s easy. It’s no problem to say “Du” to strangers, even if they’re older than you (when you usualy use the formal “Sie”).
Popular festivals are also al bit “rough”. There is a lot of drinking, but generally people control themself. In Germany, drinking beer is so firmly anchored in society that most people have long experience of drinking, but still behaving… Drinking liters of beer works with a lot of food. Of course, sometimes there are people who drink too much. But security quickly brings them out of the tent. If people are in a bad condition, paramedics are called. At larger celebrations there are separate departments with paramedics who take care of health problems.
General security is like any other major event. Rather better, because security is very important. When you dance on the tables you are asked to come down. If you fall it’s very dangerous for yourself. There is aggressiveness or fights, but not more than at any other party with so many visitors. Usually the reason is a misunderstanding. I have certainly been to a Volksfest 50 times, but have never experienced a serious situation on the site itself. The way to the train station is more dangerous. It’s like flying on a plane: you think it’s particularly dangerous, but with all the security measures in place, it’s actually safer than any other form of transportation.
It ends at around 11 or midnight. It is not an event to go through the night. But it starts much earlier. At 11 p.m. in a marquee you can sometimes feel as if it were 5 a.m. Then it goes back home or you go partying somewhere else.
If you want to sit at a table in the evening, you need a lot of luck – or a reservation. You can do that, but often you need a minimum number of guests. In Munich you hardly get a place in the evening without a reservation. But there are also areas where you don’t have to reserve. But you should arrive early. During the week you generally get seats faster. Reservations are made months in advance at the Oktoberfest. The situation is better elsewhere. You should find out more on the website of the Volksfest. You can often reserve tables there. In the tent there is an overview where you can see which table you can use. You have to be on time! As I have described above, you can always get a few places by asking.
There are certain traditions for the festivals. This can be a solemn entry at the beginning. The first day of the Oktoberfest in Munich is the “Einzug der Wiesnwirte” (arrival of Oktoberfest hosts) . Some barrels of beer are brought to the festival area on historic beer wagons. This is symbolic, because in reality you need a lot of trucks to transport the beer. Also marching bands and traditional costumes clubs walk along, presenting their music and clothing. In Munich clubs from all over Bavaria, but also Austria are gathering there. Also some traditional customs can be seen on the festival site. For example, the “Goaßlschnalzen” (whipcracking), where the whips crack directly over the heads of the visitors. On the first day of a festival, it is customary that the beer is only served after the “Anstich” (tapping). The first barrel is opend. And that by the acting mayor of the city. It has to be opened with a hammer. Attention is paid to how many hammer clubs it needs to open the barrel. The less the better. In Würzburg, on the Kiliani, there is a boxing match every year. At the Würzburg “Frühjahrsvolksfest” (spring folk festival) there is a tree trunk in the middle of the tent where everyone can try to climb up. Anyone who gets up to the top gets a “Mass” for free. But these are just examples. There are always special features to discover at the folk festivals.
Trachten (Bavarian Style Clothes)
There are actually many types of “Tracht” (simple translation: Bavarian costumes). By far the best known form is “Dirndl and Lederhose”. A few sentences about the meaning: At the end of the 19th century, many people moved from the countryside to the cities to work in the new factories. The cities grew quickly, it was loud, fast, modern. Many of the newcomers founded “Trachtenvereine” (traditional clothes clubs). People from the same region came together to preserve a piece of their home and identity. This included wearing the rural clothing of the home region. But it was not the normal farm work clothes, but the clothes that were put on on Sundays and public holidays. Each region had different costumes, and there were often differences from village to village. The other way around came tourism. Townspeople from the middle and higher classes wanted to get out of the noisy city, polluted by the factories. They went on country trips. Often into the mountains (in northern Germany, on the other hand, often to the sea). When the townspeople were in the mountain villages, they sometimes wanted to dress in the “popular” way. For this they bought a “Tracht”. They also took them home as a souvenir of this countryside-area. So tourists have been buying lederhosen and dirndls for more than 120-150 years!
Today, the traditional Bavarian costumes are worn as “original Bavarian” at folk festivals. The well-known dirndls and lederhosen are only a “modern, simplified” version. There are endless shapes and subtleties.
Equality has long been a high value in Germany (in the past, of course, this was especially true for equality within the strata). Popular festivals were intended for the people, that is, the mass of ordinary people. Today it is something for everyone. The social differences disappear at the Volksfest. The costume supports this. If many wear the same, you can not see who has a lot or little money. People are indistinguishable by clothing. In addition, a wide variety of people often sit table to table. Everyone can participate, admission is free. It is a piece of social equality.
When everyone meets for the festival, also the cultural differences disappear. Anyone who is a migrant or a child of migrants is a part of the whole, immediately by wearing “Tracht”. Then he is one of all. Everybody can participate. (Admittedly, I only saw women with a headscarf outside and never inside the beer tent.) In the tent itself, however, the origin takes a back seat. Whether someone comes from Africa, Iran or Australia is not that important anymore.
The main thing is whether you are Bayer (Bavarian) or not. No matter whether foreigners or non-Bavarian Germans (the “Preißn”): There is no difference for a real Bavarian.
Arrival and departure
Especially at the big festivals you are not alone if you e.g. arriving by train. The trains are full and you can recognize those who are partying by the traditional wearers. The party usually starts in the morning on the way, also because of the beer prices directly at the festival. When you get off at the train station, you usually only have to follow the crowd to get to the festival site. When the festival area ends (11 or 12 p.m.) you can also join the crowd to get to the train station. Even on the train you are with a lot of mostly young people who all go home. The party often goes on there. Even if the train is late, or if there is a replacement, you are at least not alone. I’ve already met a lot of people on these return trips.
It’s like everything else: The best is to experience it yourself.
Here I describe terms, what they mean and how they are used in Germany. One often reads or hears terms such as liberal, conservative, social democratic, right, left, extreme or populist. In the political discussion and in the media it is assumed that one understands them. The definition of the terms themselves is often debated and at the same time, different people often understand different things under the terms. That alone within Germany. In other countries the same terms are sometimes understood differently. All in all, I think it’s important to write about it. Even if I can only give an overview.
In this post I will write about political philosophies such as liberal, conservative, social democratic, green, nationalistic. Also deal with the simplest view of the political spectrum, the division into “left” and “right”. There are also styles, methods and characteristics: radicalism, extremism, populism. Finally, there are combinations of the terms. With it you can express what you want to designate more precisely.
political philosophies (basic ideas)
To be simple, political philosophies describe how people imagine the best way to solve problems in society. They are ideologies, that containing ideas and principles logically fit together.
focuses on individual freedom and rights for people (freedom over the power of the state, rulers, religions, etc.)
The state should stay out of people’s lives as far as possible and only be responsible for a few tasks (above all security and compliance with laws)
Each person should decide for himself about his life, but bear his own responsibility for it (e.g. if you are poor because of your own wrong decisions)
In Germany today, liberalism is primarily associated with the economic sector. Freedom for people also means that they can operate freely. Pure economic liberalism calls for the dismantling of rules and regulations for companies so that they can develop better. The state should stay out of the economy completely so that the advantages of a free market economy can evolve. For example, public services (water supply, hospitals, schools, roads, etc.) should also work as private companies. The term “neoliberal” is used for this by the opponents of this view. “Neo”, Greek for “new”, used in a sense of a “new form”. These opponents believe that state-owned companies and organizations operate better than private companies.
focus is on loyalty to a community (family, religion, people, homeland, culture). This is strengthened by the individual, which strengthens the community and thus also benefits the individual member.
a main point is the preservation of existing traditions and values
Changes in society should happen as slowly and carefully as possible. Old values and norms should only disappear if they prove to be harmful or inappropriate. New is accepted when it is an improvement.
outdated variant: structurally conservative (structures in the state, society, economy, religion should not change)
modern form: conservative by values (values such as patriotism, family spirit, personal responsibility etc. should be retained)
Is historically connected with religion, i.e. in Germany with Christianity. This connection is dissolving more and more. Most Muslims in Germany are also usually conservative.
The view that there is no such thing as a “perfect person” and that citizens can also live traditionally, ie “unfashionably”, if they so choose. Example of a conservative view: A family of father, mother and children is seen as the normal case. Other models are accepted but should not be propagated.
… more is not translated yet. Please switch to to german version.
Here I will write about surnames in Germany. That this can be interesting, I have noticed several times. For example, when a friend from Ethiopia told me that he always wonders what qualities the ancestors of a person named “Stein” (stone) must have had. Or when I talked to a Portuguese about the regulations in Germany, which differ from Portugal or Spain, where you have 2 surnames. Or when I learned from a Syrian that in Arab countries it is common for a woman to keep her name while marrying, but the children are given the surname of the father. Or with a Korean about the prefix of the surname, which also exists in Germany in a region of dialect. Because I realized that there are very different concepts in the world, I would like to give an overview here.
In general, a distinction is made between first and last names.
Robert Behrendt -> Robert is the first name, Behrendt the last name (or surname or family name)
The last name is inherited from the parents. The first name is chosen by the legal guardian. There are precise laws for both in Germany.
They are also very committed. To change names is quite difficult in Germany. It has to be applied for at the state administration and is only approved in exceptional cases. For example, surnames, if they sound very offensive or ridiculous (for example, “Fick” -> that has nowadays the meaning of “fuck”), or if they are extremely long and difficult to pronounce and write. Sometimes if they can be confused very easily. So, you have to have a good reason to be allowed to change your official name.
Origin of family names in Germany
The surnames are mostly from the Middle Ages. Until about 500 to 800 years ago there were practically only the first names. The persons were mostly named with their occupation (“Bauer” -> farmer, “Fischer” -> fisherman, “Müller” -> miller), a personal property (“Klein” -> small, “Gross” -> large, “Schön” -> beautiful, “Alt” -> old, “Braun” -> brown-haired), or their place of residence (“Bach” -> at the brook, “Berg” -> at the mountain). From the Middle Ages, these surnames were slowly written down, so noted in documents and inherited to the children. For a long time there are many Slavic names, from people that have ancestors from East-Central and Eastern Europe. These are names like “Nowak” or “Kowalski”, which are especially recognizable because they are very complicated to write. In the last hundred years, of course, names from Europe and its neighborhood, ie Italian, Turkish, French, Greek names have been added. In the future, the share of Arab, Persian and African consignations will probably gain in importance.
occupation of an ancestor
With the establishment of the surname, typical professions from earlier times were preserved. Since industrialization, however, there are no longer many professions. For example “Böttcher” or “Köhler”. Others are still known – although there aren’t many left (e.g. “Schmidt” -> smith). Still others are timeless (e.g. “Koch” -> cook).
meaning (of forgotten fob names)
Böttcher, Schäffler, Fassbinder
craftsmen who built barrels
craftsman who made charcoal
Vogt, Meier, Schulz, Scholz
administrators, lower officials
examples of surnames that base on job names / occupations
personal look of an ancestor
To describe people, you also describe their bodies. Even if the descendants of these people look very different, these names are very common.
Groß, Lang, Lange
particularly large body size
particularly small body size
one can only guess that the person looked very old
Schwarz, Braun, Krause
dark, brown, frizzy
usually the hair was meant here (very dark, brown or frizzy hair)
examples of surnames that base on an ancestors look
place of residence of an ancestor
Names that indicate the place where people lived. This was mainly done because the profession of farmer was so common. That is why one has simply given the place of residence for better differentiation of the people. Anyone who lived by a stream (“Bach”) was called “Bachmann”.
living at the mountain / hill
also living at the mountain / hill /rock “Stein” in a meaning of “rock”
Becker / Bach
living at the creek (there ist also “Bäcker” with “ä” . the origin of “Bäcker” is the job “baker”)
examples of surnames that base on the place of residence of an ancestor
first name of an ancestor
Some first names have also become surnames. Thus the person was named as the son of “…”.
“Behrendt” is e.g. a derivation of the first name “Bernard”. Bernard is actually a first name. (The meaning of the first name is: “Hard / strong as a bear”.)
origin of an ancestor
from Bohemia (now Czech Republic)
examples of surnames that base on the origin of an ancestor
Due to the close connection in the East Central European area (especially today’s Poland) there have been many Slavic names for centuries. Approx. 8-9% of the family names in Germany have a Slavic origin. They typically end on -ak, -ow or -ski.
Huguenots were French Protestants who were expelled from France by the Catholics. That was about 300 years ago. You have found a new home in many Protestant areas of Europe, including the Protestant countries of Germany.
Examples: Dumont, Boué, Godeffroy, de Maizière, Sarrazin
Immigration of the past 70 years
Many Turkish names come from immigration in the 20th century. “Yilmaz”, “Öztürk” or “Erdogan”, for example, also appear relatively often in Germany. With around 3 million Turks and Germans of Turkish origin, one can assume around 3 – 3.5% Turkish or Kurdish surnames. There are also notable numbers of Italian, Greek, Spanish and English-American family names.
Special case: noble names
For a long time, the nobility were the secular social leaders in Germany. There were titles of nobility that arose from certain functions, such as “Graf”, “Freiherr” or “Ritter”. The titles were later inherited. The place of origin of the family is usually indicated with the “von” (from) or “zu” (to the). Since the end of the monarchy in Germany in 1919, members of the nobility no longer have any privileges. The nobility titles and names, which previously indicated rank and position, simply became permanent surnames.
Paul “von Hindenburg” Otto “von Bismarck” Ursula “von der Leyen“
But there is one special feature. With the titles of nobility there is the exception that the male and female form may still be used.
That someone has a noble name today only shows something from the history of the family. Legally, someone with a noble name is a perfectly normal citizen.
Memorial for Valentin Becker. The reader now knows whats the origin of “Becker”
Rules for family names when getting married
In the case of marriage, the classic case is that the woman takes the man’s last name. This is also the centuries-old tradition that was required by law until the 1960s / 1970s. Today you can choose whether one partner takes the name of the other or whether both keep their own surname. One of the two partners can also have a double name. After a divorce you usually have the right to use your old name again. Own creations, i.e. mixtures of names, are not allowed. For foreigners who live in Germany, the naming rights of their home country can also be used when they marry.
For example, if Martin Müller and Anne Schmidt get married, they have the following options under German law:
Variant (according to commonness)
Names after the wedding
1. the woman takes the man’s name
Martin Müller + Anne Müller
2. both keep their names
Martin Müller + Anne Schmidt
3. a spouse (usually the wife) takes a double name
Martin Müller + Anne Schmidt-Müller oder Martin Schmidt-Müller + Anne Schmidt
4. the man takes the woman’s name
Martin Schmidt + Anne Schmidt
Incidentally, triple names are not possible! The Federal Constitutional Court decided on May 5, 2009. So you cannot “collect names” through several marriages and be called e.g. “Schmidt-Müller-Stein”.
Example of a well-known person Angela Kasner was born in 1954. In 1974 she married Ulrich Merkel. She changed her name to Angela Merkel. They divorced in 1981, but Angela Merkel kept the assumed married name. In 1998 she married Joachim Sauer. But they both kept their respective names and are now the couple Angela Merkel and Joachim Sauer.
Historical development of married name law (for particularly interested readers)
At the end of the 19th century, in the German Empire in 1875, civil marriage was introduced. Since then one can speak of general rules throughout Germany. With the BGB of 1896 it was regulated by law that (according to tradition) the name of the man automatically becomes the family name at the time of marriage.
There was a change to this in 1966 in East Germany (GDR) and from 1976 also in West Germany (FRG): Either the name of the man or the woman was determined to be the family name that the children also receive. If desired, one of the two spouses could combine his previous married name with the new married name. Double name, e.g. Schmidt-Müller. It was not possible for both of them to keep their names. It should be noted that the laws in the two German states were changed with a difference of 10 years. Socialist East Germany was faster than liberal West Germany in terms of women’s equality.
In 1991 it was decided in reunified Germany that both could keep their own names. It was also possible to have a double name for both people. As early as 1993, however, the option of using common double names for married couples and children was withdrawn. The current rules have been in effect since 1993.
Passing on family names to children
If the parents are married: A family name can be determined in a marriage. The children also receive this. If there is no pre-determined family name, one of the parents’ names is chosen.
If the parents are not married: For children who are not born in a marriage, the children are usually given the mother’s name. However, the child can also take on the father’s name if both parents have custody.
A double name cannot be passed on to the children. That was only possible from 1991 to 1993. Lena Meyer-Landrut, who won the Eurovision Song Contest 2010 for Germany, is one of these exceptions, she was born in 1991 and has the double name of her father.
Anne and Martin have a daughter, Leonie. Depending on the name of the parents, there are the following options for Leonie’s last name:
name of daughter
Anne Schmidt, Martin Schmidt
Anne Schmidt, Martin Schmidt-Müller
Anne Schmidt, Martin Müller (regardless if married or not)
Leonie Schmidt or Leonie Müller
Mr. Schmidt did not choose the profession of his medieval ancestor. He didn’t became a smith, but a butcher.
Carnival: Karneval, Fasching, Fastnacht… As so often in Germany there are different names for one and the same thing depending on the region. In Germany it is often described as this: controlled excess!
Mainly these 3 names are used: (Der) Karneval -> that comes from the Latin, either “carne levare” (take away meat) or “carne vale” (meat, farewell!) (Die) Fastnacht -> “die Fastenzeit naht” (Lent is approaching) oder “die (letzte) Nacht vor dem Fasten” (the (last) night before Lent) (Der) Fasching -> from the medieval “Fastenschank” (serving of drinks), the last serving of alcoholic drinks before Lent
For me personally it is Fasching! But I will use “Karneval” here because it is used nationally in Germany and is also close to the English “carnival”.
Regionality: How significant the carnival is depends very much on the region. Most are predominantly Catholic regions where a strong carnival culture has developed and maintained. It is particularly popular in the Rhineland (Cologne, Dusseldorf, Aachen, Bonn, Mainz and others). But it is celebrated everywhere, although there is not the same intensity everywhere.
“meeting carnival”, “street carnival” and “party carnival”: Classically you can distinguish between meeting carnival and street carnival. The meetings (“Karnevals-Sitzung”) are special indoor events organized by carnival societies. The street carnival takes place outside and in bars. However, there are also organized events such as the carnival parades or the “town hall storming” (Rathaussturm), in which the fools symbolically take power in the city. Then there are also carnival parties in various forms, be it in bars, clubs, in schools or private.
Carnival Societies (Karnevalsgesellschaften): These are associations whose members are passionate about celebrating carnivals and, above all, organizing events.
Carnival meeting (Karnevals-Sitzungen):: They are organized by carnival societies. You have a large, decorated hall full of mostly costumed guests. There are several artists, comedians and dance groups, that perform on a stage. This “Sitzung” is chaired by a session president and the Elferrat. Everything is hilarious, yet there is an ironic serious facade in the process reminiscent of a member meeting of a serious organization. As so often, it is a parody of otherwise serious gatherings. At carnival time, many meetings of the big and well-known clubs are televised. But if you really want to experience it, you have to be there in person. The humor on such sessions is usually not very intellectual, but it’s just about the fun.
Street carnival (Straßenkarneval ): celebrations on the street and in adjacent bars. It is laughed, drunk and celebrated especially exuberantly. Here are things that are otherwise not possible: For example, alcohol in harsh amounts, public, by day and night. Sentences that would be sexist on normal days are not worth mentioning in the street carnival. Of course it is not always that extreme. But you should be prepared to have fun when you are in the middle of the crowd.
Carnival parades (Karnevals-Umzüge): They are the highlight of the street carnival. Costumed people are walking through the city on foot or on decorated vehicles. It is also a parade of carnival societies. On the vehicles is celebrated or even current topics recorded critically and humorously. Mostly the “powerful” are mocked. The biggest is the Rose Monday parade in Cologne. But there are also small, cozy parades in many small towns.
Carnival cries (Karnevals-Rufe): At the height of the Carnival season, there is a special greeting. With him you can also show that you join in the whole bustle. They are also regionally different. The best known are “Helau” and “Alaaf”. One says for example in Cologne “Alaaf” and in Duesseldorf “Helau”. Because a kind of “enmity” exists between these two cities, one should use the correct greeting 😉S
Schwäbisch-Alemannische Fasnet: Independent, original carnival in southwestern Germany. The elements of the “modern”, Rhineland carnival are not here consciously.
typical food: Krapfen (similar to donuts)
As I mentioned before, the street carnival is sometimes rough. Here is a quote from an opinion article by Dagmar Rosenfeld, editor-in-chief of WELT:
Carnival will answer the question of how far we go if we let ourselves go. Precisely because on the great days some principles are overruled, they reveal how stable and equal our society is. And that it is so stable, that it preserves decency even in indecency.
Carnival is the time before the Christian Lent until Easter. The basic forms of the festival in Germany go back to the Middle Ages. Previously, when Lent was still strictly for everyone, all supplies of animal food and alcoholic beverages had to be “used up” until Lent. So it was celebrated a really dissolute party, before fasting was 40 days. In addition, there were still very ancient times customs that should scare away the winter. These are temporally collapsed. As a result, a hilarious party with masks, fairings, etc. has developed. It was also a time when in a few days the “world conditions” were reversed. The servants became masters and vice versa. The “fools” (“Narren”) took power. That is also the reason why there are symbolic “carnival-storms” of the town halls in Germany. Many elements are also from the 19th century. The soldiers were parodied with their uniforms, with their step and discipline. It started with hidden mockery of the Napoleonic occupation troops in the Rhineland. Then to the Prussians, who after the war of liberation against the French in many countries now had the shots. That’s why the traditional stage dances, uniforms, etc. look like military: it’s a parody of the military!
11.11. (November 11th): Beginning of the carnival season. Historically, because there was a Lent before Christmas in early Christian times. Here the town halls are stormed.
February / March: Events and splendid meetings of the clubs take place here.
Closer carnival days: The right Carnival days take place just before Lent, so at a fixed distance from Easter. Because Easter depends on the lunar calendar, which does not quite agree with the solar calendar (365 days), Easter and therefore Carnival fall each year to different dates in the months of February and March.
Weiberfastnacht/Weiberfasching: Thursday before Ash Wednesday (Aschermittwoch). This is where the street carnival begins.
“Carnival Friday”, “Carnival Saturday” and “Carnival Sunday” -> the weekend before, many parties are celebrated
Rose Monday (Rosenmontag) -> The “highlight” of the carnival. Here the famous Rosenmontagszug takes place in Cologne
Shrove Tuesday (Faschingsdienstag)
Ash Wednesday (Aschermittwoch) -> Here only the ashes remain of the whole festival and it is over). It is interesting that traditionally the parties organize a “political Ash Wednesday”. It’s about talking to your own people and criticizing the political opponent particularly hard.
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Christian Lent, which runs until Holy Thursday / Easter. Lent takes 40 days but Sundays are excluded. Lent is traditionally about giving up meat. But in the present day many believing Christians are above all concerned with the symbol. For example, alcohol, sweets etc. are not used. According to a representative survey in 2017, 11% of the population in Germany fast in Christian Lent. This origin is not that significant anymore.
No carnival day is a public holiday. Rose Monday and Shrove Tuesday are in some areas but days on which the companies release their employees.
“fünfte Jahreszeit” (“fifth season”) -> this is another name of the carnival (the time from November 11th to Ash Wednesday)
“Karnevalshochburg” (“Carnival stronghold”) -> where the carnival is particularly strongly rooted
“Jeck” / “Narr” / “Narren” (“Fool” / “Fools”) -> Expressions for people celebrating Carnival. You can also use “jeck” as adjective: you can describe it as cheerful, witty, in party mood.
In Germany, it’s usually pretty neat. The carnival, however, is a “state of emergency” and “organized loss of control”. There are people who hate it and others who love it.
If you want to join in a tip: you should know if you are in the area where you say “Karneval” or “Fasching”, or something else. And what the regional exclamation is: For example, “Helau” or “Alaaf”. You do not have to dress up consuming, something colorful is enough. Otherwise, only: good mood!
Here I would like to list some important or recommendable German films, series and television series. Background: Until 1933, the German film had world renown. Today he is not that important internationally. But there are still good films and some good series that are fun and also provide an insight into the country.
Das Leben der Anderen (2006) Drama, History Surveillance of the GDR state security in the cultural scene of East Berlin, playing in the 1980s
Die Blechtrommel (1979) novel adaptation Story about an unusual child in Germany of the 1930s and 1940s, interesting with a look into this time.
Der Untergang (2004) Drama, History well made film about the last days of Hitler and the last fights in Berlin Especially as it shows a part of the man of Adolf Hitler (based on the memories of his secretary)
Das Boot (1981) War drama, thriller Submarine war in the Atlantic in World War II, action and experiences of the crew.
Baader-Meinhof-Komplex (2008) Drama, about the RAF, left-wing terrorist group in the 70s.
Türkisch für Anfänger (Serie, Comedy) Comedyserie über eine Deutsch-Türkische Patchwork-Familie
Der Tatortreiniger Comedy series about a “crime scene cleaner”, so someone who professionally cleans the place after a crime.
4 Blocks Drama series, about Arab clans (Mafia) in Berlin.
Tatort (English “crime scene”): Crime series with 90-minute episodes, which comes on Sundays 20:15 clock in the first German television. It is the most popular thriller series in the German-speaking countries. There are a number from Munich, Berlin, Dortmund, Dresden, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Kiel, Freiburg, Wiesbaden and even more (including Vienna, Austria and Lucerne, Switzerland). There are then about one to four crime scenes in one city per year. The crime scenes should be realistic and comprehensible. In recent years, there have also been some “experimental” crime scenes that play a little bit with reality. In addition, current topics are taken up. The character of the rows is always a little different. Often, the personality of the investigators and the interaction of the teams in the foreground. There are also series that are rather comedies: Münster and Weimar “Tatorte”. The basic concept is always the same: 1. There is a murder (typically someone dies in the first few minutes). 2. The murderer is identified (it is typical that he / she is not determined until the very end). The setting, so the places, the characters timeless and current topics but very diverse. There are also some fan clubs and people meet for a common “Tatort-watching”. How well known and popular the “crime scene” is, you can also see in the detail of the Wikipedia article: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tatort_(Fernsehreihe)
Polizeiruf 110 (English “Police call”):
In the GDR, the “Polizeiruf 110” was produced as a counterpart to the West German “Tatort” since 1971. (Tatort: Start 1970 in West Germany). The police riot films are also thrillers, but in the GDR period there are differences in details and peculiarities, the reasons lie in the completely different state system. In contrast to the “western”Tatort there was usually no murder, but it was “minor” crimes enlightened and it was more the police work in the foreground and less action. After the reunification, the “Polizeiruf” has become more akin to the Tatort, but it still exists, especially in East German cities. When the police call I can recommend the from the city of Rostock (shot since 2010). Also the police Munich with “Hanns von Meuffels” (2011-2018) are recommended.
Documentary / docutainment
In terms of documentary I can’t recommend anything special, because there is a lot of interesting things around. In addition, it depends heavily on your own interests. I only introduce a few documentation series here.
After writing about the Christmas season in another post, I would like to write about the festival itself. About what is closely related to time, Christmas Eve, the Christmas holidays and the time after Christmas.
Nativity scenes and nativity plays: Of course part of Christmas is the biblical Christmas story . Mainly in the churches “cribs” are set up. These are a model representation of the stable scene in the Christmas story. In addition in some places a play is practiced and performed by the children of the parishes.
The Christmas season is also time of stories and classic films. On television, many fairy tales are shown. There are classics that have been shown again and again for many years: For example, “3 Haselnüsse für Aschenbrödel” (3 hazelnuts for Cinderella), the Swedish “Michel from Lönneberga” stories of Astrid Lindgren or “Der kleine Lord” (Little Lord Fauntleroy).
At Christmas time you can often see oranges / tangerines, apples and nuts. Background: In the past, these things were not available year round. Apples mature in the fall and are therefore abundant at this time. Nuts are also easy to store and provide plenty of energy in the cold winter. Oranges and tangerines are ready for Christmas (in Southern Europe), so they will be given away for Christmas.
Christmas Eve (Heiligabend), as well as the first and second Christmas Day is designed differently depending on the family tradition. December 24 is not a public holiday. The shops are usually open only until noon. Many people use this as a last resort for shopping. That’s why you should organize the things you need for the festival in advance. During the day the last preparations are made. Traditionally, the Christmas tree is also set up and decorated on this day. The food is prepared and relatives travel to their visits. Believers attend the services. For many people it is one of the few church visits in the year. The evening is usually designed as a quiet celebration in the family. In some families, singing songs or playing instruments is customary. But for those who don*t do it theirself there are concerts, shows, fairy tales etc in TV. Board and card games are also popular. There is definitely delicious food. On Christmas Eve, however, there is the custom of eating sausages with potato salad. This is a simple meal, as a contrast to the elaborate dishes in the next two days. The gifts will be distributed at the “Bescherung”. If there are children in the family, then a Santa Claus is engaged, who presents the gifts. But that’s not easy! Be prepared to recite a poem or sing a song to get the gift. Depending on the region the “Christkind” (Christ Child) brings the presents. This is of course not to be seen, so the children can be surprised by the fact that the gifts are suddenly there. Even if no special Santa Claus comes, then usually someone who will distribute the gifts – including fun factor. Big or small gifts, bought or homemade. Everything is possible what you can imagine. The most important thing is that you spend a nice evening in the family.
Appearance of Santa Claus: Has developed from “Nikolaus” (St. Nicholas). The look of Santa Claus was very various until the 30s. There were different ones. often inspired by the bishop-origin. Coca Cola in the US did not invent Santa Claus, but he has made the red-and-white style popular worldwide and unified it! It was used for an advertising campaign, with red and white chosen from their own colors. The Christ Child: Martin Luther, as a reformer of the church, rejected the worship of saints (Catholicism) and sought a replacement for Nicholas, who was a bishop and was canonized.
The first and second Christmas day will also be used for visits. And of course, to try the gifts 🙂 In these days meals are very well. Very typical are goose or duck with red cabbage and dumplings. Often one uses the time for visits with relatives. Ironically, Christmas is always associated with family quarrels. Especially when meeting relatives who do not really like each other. And of course you can not force harmony and contemplation … When the party is over and you do not see it for a long time, everything is fine again. See you next Christmas … To find out what the Germans really do on 25 and 26 December, you have to ask them. That is different according to taste. One can of course assume that there are people who do not join in all this bustle. These Christmas muffle are looking for these days occupations that have nothing to do with Christmas. Or they go on vacation at the time!
The time between Christmas and New Year’s Eve is also called the “Zeit zwischen den Jahren” (“time between the years”). Many people take a vacation. Some companies do not work or almost do not work at all., But with New Year’s Eve the quiet time ends . Traditionally, the Christmas tree and all other decorations will be dismantled on January 6th. The decoration will be stored and is waiting for the next Christmas. In Germany, of course, its regulated how the Christmas trees are disposed of! Either there is a special date, at which the city cleaning makes an extra Christmas tree tour to collect everything. Or (usually in smaller places) there is a small cozy party, the “Christmas tree burning”, in which usually the local fire department burns all the Christmas trees of the place in a big fire.
January 6 is the day of the Magi (“Heilige 3 Könige” / holy three kings). This is especially important in Catholic regions. In some states it is also a public holiday. There is the tradition of the “Sternsinger” (“star singers”). Thereby children draw as holy 3 kings dressed in the houses, sing and collect donations for the poor, etc. In large places you have to order them. As a conclusion you get a blessing at the front door. It is the last part of all Christmas dates. This will be the end of the year.
Christmas is a Christian festival enriched by geography and history. Winter solstice is the highlight of the cold, dark winter and the end of the year. Germany is Christian in its history, and Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ at this time. This festival has become an integral part of the culture. The religious aspect is still noticeable, but is now only one part. Most of the things I’ve described here are beautiful traditions and customs even without the religious occasion. Regardless of origin, people without faith or other religions also more or less commit to traditions. It is the time of light in the dark, the review of the old year and a look into the new year. It’s holidays for the family, contemplation, peace … So it’s something that is important to all people.
I would like to give an overview of the Christmas season and Christmas itself with some of its customs. I can only show a section, because there are many regional features of which I don’t know myself. Each family also has its own traditions and procedures. In addition, I am not a Christian, so Christmas for me has less to do with religion, but more with family and rest in the middle of winter.
Christmas, the Christian festival celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, is more precisely the 24th of December (Christmas Eve / Heiligabend) and the 25th and 26th of December (1st and 2nd Christmas Day / 1. und 2. Weihnachtsfeiertag). The weeks before are called pre-Christmas time.
This Christmas season (Weihnachtszeit) really starts with the first Advent. The 1st to 4th Advent, these are the 4 Sundays before Christmas. There is the custom to set up an Advent wreath. Traditionally it consists of fir green, on which there are 4 candles. Each Advent Sunday, another candle is lit. Fir green, like the Christmas tree, are classic decoration. They symbolize as evergreen plants (also over winter time) the nature / the life / the spring after which the people long back. Of course, the advent calendar with its 24 doors must not be missing. The classic version of our time is filled with small chocolate figures. But nowadays, everything can be in there. Cosmetics, literature texts, tea or sex toys for adults. You can also make a calendar from a box of beer. The imagination knows no limits. The basic idea is 24 little surprises every day from December 1st to 24th to make waiting easier. Although impatient and addicted to chocolate open all 24 doors at once to eat the chocolate.
The Christmas decoration (Weihnachtsdekoration) will be set up on the first weekend of Advent and will last until the 6th of January.Examples of typical Christmas decorations are: the candle arch, the smoking man, the gingerbread house, the nutcracker and the Christmas pyramid. Fairy lights in all possible forms are also part of the Christmas decoration. Also shops in the city and many companies decorate at Christmas time. However, excited flashing and color-changing lights spring rather Asian taste, so as most of the lights decoration is made. The nicer decoration is calm and stylish.
December 6 is St. Nicholas Day (Nikolaus). In Germany there is already a foretaste of Christmas on this day by giving small gifts. There is the following custom: the children clean their shoes or boots and put them outside the door overnight. The next morning, the shoes are filled with small gifts: But only if they are well cleaned, because diligence is rewarded! Who does not clean his shoes properly gets nothing. In addition to shoes, in some places plates are set up overnight. Nowadays children almost always get something, even if they were not good. It has developed to the fact that there is a Nicholas in kindergartens, elementary schools or similar places a Nicholas who brings small gifts. It’s because at Christmas, the people won’t meet. In early times, Nicholas brought the actual gifts on December 6th. However, the messing (Bescherung) has wandered into Christmas in Germany as well as in other countries. Then Santa Claus or the Christ Child (depending on the region) brings the presents. In English-speaking countries, the gift-bearer is also called Santa Claus and comes for Christmas. Not only the name, but also the secret delivery of presents at night corresponds to the German tradition. It is not boots or plates, but stockings in which the gifts are placed. The idea is the same – only the appointment is different.
Christmas parties (Weihnachtsfeiern) are among the obligatory things in clubs, businesses and other organizations and groups to have a Christmas party. The occasion and thought is the same, it is also a joint meeting at the end of the year. Otherwise, they can have very different moods. It can be a cozy coffee-drinking in the old people’s home or a common restaurant visit of a company or department. Or a big party of the company or association. Especially with companies, this is one of the few occasions when you organize a party with all your colleagues. It is usually funny to “extremely funny” ;).
In the pre-Christmas period, one often speaks of “Weihnachtsstress” (english: “Christmas stress”). This arises through the preparation of the festival. Especially by getting gifts or organizing trips or Christmas dinner.
For Christmas cookies (Weihnachtsgebäck) only the following: There are many different varieties, sometimes known only regionally. Everywhere but are known cookies (german special name: Plätzchen), Stollen, gingerbread (Lebkuchen), cinnamon stars (Zimtsterne), specula (Spekulatius) …In the shops, Christmas cookies are usually offered at the end of October. The early date has nothing to do with tradition, but with sales. Home-made, it tastes almost always better. Especially nice is the Plätzchen-cookie baking at home.
Christmas markets are mainly in German-speaking countries, Germany, Austria, Switzerland. They take place during the pre-Christmas period, ie the end of November to the end of December. Traditionally, they are already finished before the actual Christmas days. Most of the time they close for 22/23. December. You visit them with family or friends. In festively decorated stalls you can find delicious food as snacks, you drink hot drinks and can look around for small gifts. Normally you are not outside for a long time at this time of the year – but in this occasion its comfortable in cold temperatures. You will find a quiet, pleasant atmosphere that you can just enjoy.
Depending on the size of the city there are bigger and smaller Christmas markets. Very large cities often have several ones in different parts of the city. The smaller markets in small towns usually do not last long. They often take place only a few days or a weekend instead. But they are often more comfortable and organized by the local residents. There are lots of little things to eat. The classics are bratwurst, roasted almonds, waffles and hot chestnuts. Usually you drink mulled wine. This is hot wine with spices and sugar (cinnamon, cloves, lemon, etc). Usually it is red wine, but there are also white mulled wine. Who ordered “Mit Schuss” (“with a shot”) receives some rum or Amaretto in the mulled wine. If you like it without alcohol, you can drink a punch or a fruit punch (“Früchtepunsch”). It’s also common to warm your hands on the hot glasses.
You can also buy presents and decorations at the Christmas markets. It is of course very nice when they sell hand-crafted things. These are often available on special smaller markets. Of course, there are always differences and special orientations. For example, medieval markets where you can drink warm mead. There are also markets with many rides and annoying music. Traditional markets can be recognized by the fact that no music or only live music is played. Christmas markets often have proper names such as the “Dresdener Striezlmarkt” or the “Nuremberg Christkindlsmarkt”. For a visit I personally recommend the Christmas market in Erfurt.
What is the origin of the traditional decoration?
The Christmas season in December is the time in which the days are shorter and therefore there is little daylight. The shortest day is the day of the winter solstice on 21th or 22th of December. On this minimal short day pass from sunrise (about 8:15 clock) to sunset (about 16:15 clock) only 8 hours. Therefore, the decoration with light is especially common. You have been longing for the light of the sun for a long time now. With Christendom, Jesus Christ was added as “light in the dark world”. It is also the time when all the leaves of the deciduous trees have fallen off. It is (normally) cold and it can snow. In this situation, conifers have a special meaning. They are evergreen plants and the only trees that remain green even in winter. They have therefore become a symbol of life and a return of spring. Branches of coniferous trees such as fir trees have become a classic decoration. The same goes for mistletoes.
So also the Christmas tree in Central Europe, in Germany, has become part of Christmas. In some parts of Germany it is also called “Christbaum” instead of “Weihnachtsbaum”. Things are hanged on for decoration. In ancient times, food was hung on him. How it is decorated is left to the imagination, taste and style. The important thing is that he has a tip! Precisely because ecological thinking is widespread in Germany, a real tree is preferred. Real trees are authentic, plastic trees are sometimes practical, but definitely not nice! In public places it belongs to the normal Christmas decoration and stands during the entire Advent season. In private, in the family, he is traditionally set up and decorated privately on Christmas Eve or the days before. It was bought fresh a few days earlier, in DIY stores, supermarkets, on Christmas markets or directly on the Christmas tree plantation.
Special thanks to Gayane Karapetyan for the Photos (inclusive featured image)