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Why learn about German Culture?
Being home to over 82 million people, Germany is the fourth largest country in Europe i.e. after France, Spain, and Sweden. Germany is also one of the most influential nations in the European Union. One of the reasons for the prominence of Germany’s position in the European Union is the fact that it is the largest economy in Europe. Its long and rich history has played a major part in the history of Europe as well as the history of the world. The diverse array of religions, customs, and traditions that it now carries has all contributed to the German Culture.
Whether you are planning to move to Germany for work or study purposes or are planning a trip to explore the country, having knowledge about German culture is always beneficial. Cultural differences can very easily cause misunderstanding. Whereas, a basic understanding of German customs and German traditions can enhance your experience in the new country.
Here is an overview of all the aspects and facts about Germany that will help you appreciate the country better –
1. Geographical Facts about Germany
Located in the heart of Western Europe, Germany is officially called the Federal Republic of Germany. It borders nine countries – Denmark, Poland, Czechia, Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands. This is, by comparison, more than any other country in Europe.
Germany has a variety of landscapes with flat lands in the north and mountains and valleys with rivers in the central and southern parts. In the north, Germany’s landscape stretches out to the two major seas – the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. On the other hand, the southern part of Germany has the Alps with Zugspitze in Bavaria as its highest peak of 2,692 meters.
2. Political Facts about Germany
It is a fact that the way the nation is led influences the German culture significantly. As an outsider, a quick run-through of the political fundamentals is essential.
- The political system of Germany is a federal democracy with strong political parties, an independent judiciary system, and a powerful government.
- The city of Berlin, as the capital, has Federal powers that are central and can also surpass the regional boundaries when needed.
- The nation has 16 states, each with its own set of responsibilities where the local and regional authorities take charge.
- All the laws are based on the Constitution called The Basic Law.
- The members of the Bundestag elect the German President who is the Head of the State.
- But the Chancellor, who is the Head of the Government, holds the real power. The election of the Chancellor is through representatives of the Bundestag and also with the approval of the President.
- The Bundestag and Bundesrat are the two powerful institutions of the parliament of Germany.
3. German History
The country’s significant history heavily influences German culture. Kings and Dukes ruled early Germany which was majorly small patches of land. In the year 1871, a politician named Otto Van Bismarck united the country with power and force.
Germany & World Wars –
In the early 19th century, Germans started invading various countries in Asia and Africa. As a result, World War I began in the year of 1914. Britain, France, The Soviet Union, and the United States defeated them in 1918.
In 1933, Adolf Hitler came into power with his Nazi party intending to make Germany great again. They invaded Poland in 1939 and thus, began World War II. During the war, they also set up concentration camps across Germany and killed millions of Jewish people. In 1945, Adolf Hitler and his party finally faced defeat.
Germany Post-World War –
After World War II, Germany was in ruins and was divided into East and West Germany. Though West Germany recovered financially and became Europe’s richest country, East Germany’s condition deteriorated under communist rule. Germany became a standoff between the Soviet Union and the Western power which caused the Cold War. In 1989, East Germany opened its borders and the Cold War came to an end. In the same year, the reunification of Germany took place and billions of dollars were spent on the modernization of East Germany.
4. German Clothing
Nowadays, Germans like to dress in smart casuals preferably in dark or neutral colors. However, observing the traditional way of dressing can give one a great insight into German culture. Clothing can be a way of expressing one’s customs and traditions. The traditional clothing in Germany is the popular Lederhosen for men and Dirndl for women. They were chiefly influenced by the region of the Bavarian Alpines.
Traditional Men’s Clothing –
In early German traditions, working-class men wore Lederhosen, especially the ones working on farms and doing labor work. It is composed of a pair of knee-length leather trousers worn over a shirt, knitted stockings, and leather shoes also called haferl. This outfit is complimented with a typical Alpine hat which is made of warm felt or wool.
Traditional Women’s Clothing –
Dirndl, in the early German traditions of the 19th century, was the standard uniform of the servant girls. It can be described as a ruffled apron dress made up of a low-cut and puff-sleeved bodice, pinafore, and a full skirt. The women wear buckled soft felt shoes along with the attire.
These clothes are now predominantly worn during the grand celebrations of festivals in Germany.
5. Religions in Germany
Though a multicultural atmosphere, around two-thirds of the German population follows Christianity. The community of Catholic and Protestant believers is split almost equally. Additionally, there are also some minority religions being practiced in Germany such as Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, etc. An interesting fact about Germany is that around one-third of Germans consider themselves atheists.
6. German Art
Though French and Italian art mostly overshadows it, German art has great significance in the story of European art.
Evolution of German Art –
So much so that many revolutionary art movements originated in Germany in different eras namely Landscape art, Northern Mannerism, and Bauhaus. However, the most popular movement was Expressionism, also known as Modern Art. It emerged in the 20th century with the belief that the focus should be on emotion and ideas as inspiration. Some of the most famous German artists were Albrecht Dürer, Gerhard Richter, and Paul Klee.
German Art Museums –
The rich history and German culture are reflected through the art in several museums all across Germany. It would probably take a long time to visit each one of them. But if you wish to explore German culture through their art, listed below are the must-visit art galleries in Germany –
- Museum Island, Berlin
- Pinakothek Museums in Munich
- Städel in Frankfurt
- Museum Ludwig in Cologne
- Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden
The art of designing has been implemented through different trends such as Carolingian to Medieval Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and the Neo-Classical and Neo-Renaissance. The architecture of Germany displays this beautifully.
Germany is a country of architecture. The rich history and developments of eras in Germany have played a major role in the development of architecture. Influenced by the same, German architecture has many distinct types. The cities of Berlin, Munich, and Cologne show you the various architectural design trends such as Carolingian to Medieval Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and the Neo-Classical and Neo-Renaissance.
Named after the movement and school of art, the Bauhaus style of design is the most modern trend in Germany as well as the rest of the world.
However, the rural parts of Germany display a different variety of housing architecture called Low and High German Houses. The difference in style is evident while traveling across the country. While Northern Germany displays the Gothic Brick style of housing, the Southern parts have a more Bavarian style of building.
The two main ideas of traditional German architecture are the half-timbered buildings and the magnificent Bavarian castles. While traditional buildings are made of brick with timber, modern buildings are based on brick masonry with sand and limestone with asphalt roof tiles.
Germans are obsessed with reading. This has been ingrained in them since childhood and the reason can be seen in the development of their literature through different eras. Unlike France and England, early German literature suffered from fragmentation and discontinuity due to the changing circumstances of the nation. We can also see this in German history and politics.
Evolution of German Literature –
There were three significant eras of German literature – the Middle ages (c.1160 – c. 1230), the growth of the 18th & 19th century (also known as the era of Goethe), and the turn from the 19th to 20th century.
While poetry and folklore stories dominated the Middle ages, the growth of German literature took place in the 18th century through Sturm and Drang genre. This genre reflected the emotional and proto-romantic state of the people. Followed by Classicism, Romanticism, and Classic German literature in the 19th century.
Van Goethe, Thomas Mann, and Erich Maria Remarque are a few of the German writers who left a mark on the history of German literature.
Another interesting fact is that the invention of magazines took place in Germany in 1663.
Present-Day German Literature –
These days, the famous literature of Germany revolves mostly around the Nazi party rule explored in different genres.
One of the most popular festivals celebrated in Germany is “Frankfurt’s Book Festival”. This festival is indeed one of its kind and the largest in the world.
German Food and Drinks
If you ask anybody about what Germans love to consume, they will tell you bread, potatoes, meat (especially pork), and tons of beer. This stereotype is particularly true for Germans. The traditional food and drink habits of the nation reflect the rich German customs and German traditions.
German Food –
Though the cuisine differs according to the region, traditional German food stays true to its hearty meals of meat served with sauce, potatoes, vegetables, and bread. As a result of the wars in the country, the techniques of preserving food through salting, smoking, curing, or pickling is still widely used. Along with the staple meals, Germans often enjoy the combination of coffee and cake also referred to as Kaffee und Kuchen.
Some of the most popular dishes are –
- Currywurst – a steamed pork sausage served with chips and curry ketchup.
- Brot & Brötchen – bread in the form of a loaf is called Brot and bread as crusty rolls are called Brötchen. Bread is one of the key symbols of Germany and has over 17,000 bakers making 300 different styles of bread.
- Käsespätzle – similar to macaroni and cheese, this dish is a composition of layers of Spätzle pasta with grated cheese and topped with fried onion.
- Schnitzel – A fried piece of meat that is tenderized and coated with eggs, flour, and breadcrumbs.
- Brezel – the German term for pretzel.
- Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte – a rich Black Forest Gateaux.
German Beverages –
Germans enjoy a wide range of drinks whether it be at mealtime or otherwise. However, the most popular drinks are coffee and beer.
Coffee, also known as Kaffee in German, is consumed mostly before or after major meals. As mentioned above, coffee is popularly indulged with a slice of cake (preferably the Black Forest Gateaux) post-lunch.
Germany ranks third as the biggest beer-drinking country in Europe and the world’s oldest brewery is in Germany. The popularity of Beer, however, rose after the Beer Purity Law was passed in 1516. This law states that beer shall be made out of only four components – barley, hops, yeast, and water. Germans have curated over 5,000 brands of beer and surely have mastered the art of brewing. The importance of this alcoholic beverage is evident when you see the significance of beer in various German traditions and German customs. It is an interesting fact about Germany that beer is no longer just popular but is a part of the German culture and lifestyle.
The evolution of German music has been an influential part of the world and more so of German culture. Presently, rock music and pop are the most sought-after genres in Germany. So much so that Germany is home to the world’s biggest rock festivals. But the musical journey that Germany has been through has been marvelous.
Evolution of German Music –
- Germany defined Classical music through the famous 3 B’s – Beethoven, Bach, and Brahms. Starting in the 16th century, Classical music enjoyed a range of hundreds of years. People across Germany as well as all over the world still enjoy listening to it.
- During the World Wars, Cabaret and Swing music gained popularity as people demanded fun and entertaining music.
- Although been around since the early 20th century, Schlager music became household music in the 1960s and 1970s. It is a combination of German folk music with pop-rock and ballad elements.
- Schlager made pop music famous. This further took another turn towards the popularisation of New Wave Pop music. This New Wave movement made German music reach English-speaking countries.
- As a result of this, electronic and techno music was also introduced in Germany. This development led to the rise of hip-hop in the country.
German Festivals and Celebrations
Festivals are a great way to experience German culture as it is a way of life for them. With over 10,000 festivals celebrated in a year, you will find many opportunities experience them. The festivals begin with the Carnival in January and end with Christmas and New Year at the end of the year. Nevertheless, Germans sure know how to paint the town red on every occasion.
Oktoberfest – The Most Popular Festival
Though every festival is important, Oktoberfest is the most popular German festival all over the world. Held in Munich for 14 to 18 days in late September to early October, over six billion people visit the city to drink at the beer festival. Everybody dresses up and has a ball with tons of beer, delicious food, thrilling amusement rides, and dance to Bavarian music.
Similarly, there are many other cultural, film, music, historical, and seasonal festivals celebrated all year round. Germans also celebrate private events like weddings as well as funerals with equal grandeur.
Considering the popularity of so many sports in Germany, it is hard to pick one and call it the national sport. However, Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Germany. The teams play in the top German professional league, Bundesliga. The national football team also won the European Football Championship in 1996 and the World Cup in 2014. Given the country’s contribution to the car manufacturing industry, motorsports are also in demand in Germany. Other than these two, Germans also enjoy handball, ice hockey, and skiing.
People of Germany
Germans are very culturally diverse due to their long history of fragmentation. Yet they remain true to the basic German stereotypes known.
To name a few of their characteristics –
- Germans are very particular about being punctual.
- They have a very strong connection to their families and believe in a sense of community.
- In Germany, people don’t entertain small talk. Instead, they are very direct and talk to the point.
- Germans respect rules, structure, and organization.
- One of the infamous stereotypes is that Germans are distant and cold. This, however, is a myth and is a result of misunderstanding their strong respect for one’s personal space.
With over 95% of the population speaking German, it is undoubtedly the official language of Germany. Along with German as their first language, the people also learn and speak English, French, Russian, and Turkish. Some more minority languages include Sorbian, Romani, Frisian, and Danish.
Significance of German Language –
An interesting fact about Germany is that the people are also very protective of their language in a way to protect German culture. For this purpose, local artists always dub all foreign movies in German when released in Germany. German is also the most spoken language in the European Union.
Whether you are a student, a working professional, or are just traveling to Germany to explore it, learning the German language can give you a lot of advantages. For this reason, there are many courses available online teaching the language.
Recommended Courses –
Henry Harvin Language Academy – German Language Course
The reputed platform of Henry Harvin Academy offers a German Language Course designed to help you learn and master the language through lexis, topics, and grammatical concepts. The course covers Advanced German Language Grammar.
On successful completion of the course, you will be able to understand the basics of building words and sentences as well as confidently initiate conversations.
Fees and Duration
Why Choose Henry Harvin Language Academy for learning the German Language?
The splendid provision of a 9-in-1 course can be reason alone to choose Henry Harvin for this course.
- The academy conducts training as live online interactive sessions.
- They provide opportunities to undertake projects in the German language and implement them practically.
- You will receive a certificate of German Language Training Course from Henry Harvin Academy on successful completion of the course. In fact, this certificate has recognition from the Govt. of India.
- The academy provides a guarantee of 100% placement for both internships as well as jobs for 1-year after completion of the course.
- Through E-learning facilities, you will get access to many tools and techniques, video content, assessments, etc.
- Along with learning facilities, you also get access to 52+ masterclass sessions required to hone your soft skills.
- Additionally, the opportunity to attend various #AskHenry sessions and Hackathons is provided.
- Moreover, you gain a free 1-year Gold membership of Henry Harvin® Language Academy for the German language training course.
Similar Courses –
- French Language Course
- Portuguese Language Course
- Spanish Language Course
- Russian Language Course
- Italian Language Course
People also refer to the country with different names in various languages. For example, it is called Deutschland in Germany itself, Germania in Latin, I’Allemagne in French, and Almanya in Turkish. However you wish to address it, its history, people, customs, and traditions are indeed what makes German culture unique. Understanding German traditions can help you perceive the country better. Nevertheless, it is fascinating to learn the tremendous contributions that Germany has made to the world of art, literature, music, and world history.
Recommended Reads –
- Complete Guide to Study German Languages Basics
- How to Learn the German Language
- Top 10 German Language Courses Online: 2022
Frequently Asked Questions
With an average requirement of approximately 934 Euros per month, the cost of living is not as expensive compared to other European countries.
Around 56% of the population in Germany speak English. Given the growing popularity of English as a global business language, more and more people are opting to learn it now.
Berlin. The capital of Germany is very welcoming to foreigners. It is also the largest city with the most employment opportunities.
Germans are mostly known to be private people in their routine lives. But they turn out to be very social when needed, especially during the celebration of festivals.
German history, artists, writers, and philosophers have majorly influenced German culture. This is also why Germany is known as the “Land of Poets and Thinkers”.
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