10 things you didn't know about Germans
Germans are tagged with plenty of stereotypes - sausage and beer anyone? But there are other quirky aspects about Germans you may not know. Take a look at our top 10.
Sssssh, it's Sunday!
You might think that Sunday is the perfect day of the week to check some things off your to-do list - mow the lawn, vacuum the carpets or put a new shelf on the wall. But put the hammer and drill away. In Germany, Sunday is "Ruhetag," or "quiet day." Shops will be closed everywhere and neighbors will complain if your noise disturbs their resting day.
Close that window!
Germans are known for their network of trains crisscrossing the country. But there’s one train Germans are deathly afraid of: the "Luftzug," or "air train." A common belief is that fresh air coming through an open window can make you sick. German doctors even give sick notes to patients for a stiff neck or a flu based on an air draught. So remember, even in summer, close all doors and windows!
Don’t blow out the candles too soon
Saying "happy birthday" to a German before the actual date can lead to angry stares and even outrage. Why? For most Germans a premature birthday wish is bad luck. They simply can’t understand why anyone would celebrate their birthday too soon. They celebrate "into" a person’s birthday at midnight - but not before.
Everything, and the kitchen sink
For many flat-hunting foreigners it comes as a shock that in Germany a kitchen is not a compulsory item in the apartment. When Germans move they take their entire kitchen with them, leaving only the pipes for the water connection behind. Oven, fridge, countertops, cupboards, and sometimes even the sink; everything will move into the new place.
Supermarket checkouts are a race
Grocery shopping in Germany can be like the Indianapolis 500. Things go fast in the checkout line. The cashier scans items with blazing speed and there isn’t much space for the groceries. Shoppers can struggle to bag items while they continue to pile up, threatening to fall to the floor. And don’t turn around, there’s a line of waiting customers giving you the evil eye if you’re not fast enough.
Water needs to fizz
If you order "water" in a German restaurant, you’ll likely get sparkling water. Germans love their sparkling water and mix it with everything - apple juice, beer, wine, the options are endless. Every beverage mixed with fizzy water becomes a "Schorle" ("spritzer"). A German would never give tap water to a guest; that’d simply be considered rude. Water has to bubble or at least needs to be bottled.
Please means yes and thanks means no
Confusing, huh? Here’s an example. If you’re asked in German whether you would like some more of that delicious German beer, make sure you don’t simply say "danke ("thanks"), assuming that will get you more. "Danke" will be interpreted as "no, thanks." If you do want more, then say "bitte" ("please"), which in this context means "yes, please." Otherwise, you might go thirsty.
Lunch is hot, dinner is cold
Germans call their dinner meal "Abendbrot," or "evening bread." That’s because they prefer having a hot home-cooked meal for lunch and a quick cold meal for dinner. It consists of German bread with ham, cheese and some veggies. Almost every work place, large or small, has a canteen that prepares the beloved hot lunch. That way no German is deprived of their hot meal during the workday.
Translating English into English
It’s one thing to dub English-language films into German. In fact, in Germany, every American actor has his or her personal German voice-over artist. But sometimes English movie titles are also translated - into an easier form of English. The movie "Bring it On" for instance goes by the name of "Girls United" in Germany. "Maid in Manhattan" is "Manhattan Love Story." Why? That’s a good question.
FKK, the free body culture, is said to have originated in Germany - for a reason. Many Germans love to strip off their clothes on an FKK beach and stroll around the way Adam and Eve once did. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what you look like or who you’re with - at designated FKK spots and in the sauna (mixed or not) - you better get naked or you’ll be considered the weird prudish foreigner.