Learning about the culture can help newcomers find their way around
Learning about the culture can help newcomers find their way around

For newcomers in Germany, finding your way around can be overwhelming. Like in every other foreign country, there are lots of ins and outs to its society. Learn about 26 things that make the country in the heart of Europe tick.

A: Apfelschorle

Apple juice is a common drink in Germany. Carbonated apple juice (Apfelschorle) is popular with everyone from children to adults.

B: Bread

Bakeries are quite common throughout Germany. German bread is famous worldwide for its wide variety and high quality.

C: Cars

German cars are some of the most respected, and bought, in the world. Volkswagen, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and BMW all come from Germany.

D: Deutsch

German (Deutsch) is the official language in Germany. It is the most used native language in the European Union.

E: Eurovision

Germany takes part in the annual Eurovision Song Contest, which brings together every European nation. Germany last won the competition in 2010.  

F: Football

Germany is mad for football. The country is the defending men’s World Cup (Fußball Weltmeisterschaft) champions, and it has won four overall. Women’s football is also big here. Germany has won two Women’s World Cups, making it the only nation that has won both the men’s and women’s World Cups.

G: Games

The world’s largest board game fair, Spiel, takes place in Essen every autumn. More than 100,000 board game enthusiasts from around the world come together to play new games every year.

H: Holocaust

More than 6 million Jews and millions of others deemed "unfit" by Nazi Germany were killed in concentration camps during World War II. It continues to be one of the worst chapters in human history.

I: Immigration

After World War II, "guest workers" from southern Europe and Turkey came to Germany to help rebuild the nation. In 2015, Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the doors to migrants and refugees from the conflicts in the Middle East and northern Africa.

J: Johann Wolfgang Goethe

One of Germany’s favorite authors continues to influence literature today. One of his most noteworthy pieces, Faust, can still be felt in books written around the world centuries after his birth. The Goethe Institut, a non-profit German cultural center, is named after him.

K: Kids

Germany has one of the lowest birth rates in the world. According to the CIA Factbook, Germany has an estimated 8.6 births per 1,000 people this year, tied for the 10th lowest in the world.

L: Location, location, location

Germany is located in central Europe and shares a border with nine other countries. It is the seventh-largest country in Europe, with beaches on the North and Baltic Seas, and the Alps in the south.

M: Music

Germany has contributed to many different kinds of music. From Beethoven to Rammstein, from Fritz Kalkbrenner to Nena, there is something that everyone can love.

N: Nudity

Some Germans are quite comfortable showing everything they have. There are dedicated trails for hiking in the nude, nude swimming pools, even parts of major cities such as Berlin and Munich that allow sunbathers to bare it all.

O: Ownership

Home ownership is low in Germany compared to other European nations. Most Germans tend to rent instead of buy their living space.

P: Pigs

Pigs are the favorite animal that Germans love to eat and to symbolize good luck. Pork is used to create German food staples such as schnitzel and sausage. Pigs are also thought to bring good luck and little pig-shaped marzipan is sometimes given as a gift at New Year’s.

Q: Queer

Germany is very LGBT-friendly. There are many cities with LGBT districts, and Berlin and Hamburg previously elected German mayors.

R: Reunification

Germany has been one country for just the past 27 years. Germany was split in two following World War II and reunification looked to be a pipe dream. But the Berlin Wall came down on November 9, 1989 and Germany came together less than one year later. This occasion is remembered every October 3.

S: Spaghetti-Eis

Spaghetti ice cream is a favorite treat in the summer. Vanilla ice cream is pushed through a noodle press and covered with strawberry sauce to simulate spaghetti and sauce, only sweeter.

T: Taxes

Germany is well known for its high tax rates. It’s no wonder the German word for taxes (Steuer) has the word for expensive (teuer) within the word.

U: U-bahn

All German major cities have public transportation services from one end to the other. Sometimes the train you want is on the U-bahn, sometimes it's the S-bahn.

V: Vegetarian

Though Germany may be known for its sausage, it is certainly becoming friendlier to herbivores. More vegetarian and vegan options have become widely available throughout the country in recent years. Tofu schnitzel can certainly be on the menu tonight.

W: Water

Germans tend to buy their water with gas, instead of using the water out of the tap. There is also no free water and no free refills in restaurants.

X: Xenophobia

After the migrant influx starting in 2015, the number of attacks on foreigners increased in Germany. According to FunkeMedia Group, there were 3,533 attacks on migrants and migrant hostels in 2016.

Y: You

Du or Sie? Using the right "you" is important in conversations. Use "du" with friends and close family, while "Sie" should be used with people in authority, especially the boss.

Z: Zeitgeist

This is a very German word that English speakers may be familiar with. It means "the spirit of the times." This was also the name of the ball used during the 2006 World Cup when Germany was the host nation.


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