Archive for the ‘Traditions’ Category

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June Brides, Weddings German Style

Monday, June 4th, 2012

It’s June and everyone talks about a June bride. Hell, even the venues seem to charge more for this “high season” of the bridal year.

So I got to thinking (which could possibly never be a good thing) about weddings in Germany. Sure, every culture has its wedding rituals and traditions, and Germany is no different.

Getting married in Deutschland can be a three day affair. Day one usually includes a civil ceremony since a totally religious ceremony isn’t valid. The civil ceremony isn’t the big day in the life of the bride & groom; it’s usually just attended by family and a handful of close friends.

Brides and grooms wishing to get married in a medieval church or elegant cathedral will have to do it on day two of the festivities. Here’s where the big party comes in — right after the religious ceremony.

Never attended a German wedding before? You might notice the lucky couple carrying bread and salt, which is symbolic for a “good harvest.” They might also be carrying some coins to throw at any kids nearby, as guests throw rice.

Careful, someone might lose an eye! ;-)

All the dishes being broken (on Day 1) isn’t a lover’s quarrel between the lovebirds. It’s traditional to break old dishes. Scaring away any evil spirits, I gather.

There might not be new modern music or sappy love songs as their first dance as a married couple, traditionally it’s the Waltzer. But, hey, every couple’s different — so it’s a gamble. Still, I like tradition.

Want a proper wedding gift for the German couple? You can never go wrong with a ceramic pig that signifies good fortune, or a Black Forest Cuckoo Clock (yes, I’m serious). ;-)

OK, so the cuckoo clock might be out — get the newlyweds a “bridal cup,” which should be given BEFORE the actual nuptials because (again) tradition says it’s for the first toast.

I hope that cup’s filled with a great German wine. I’ll drink to that — I’ll drink to love — and I’ll drink to the lucky couples, whoever they are!

German Personality Traits ;-)

Monday, April 9th, 2012

I found the Schnitzel Republic Blog on the personality traits of the typical German quite by accident.

Wow, are we really like that? In typical German fashion, I was obsessed (I mean, motivated) to find out if these were really true.

Stubborn & Argumentative

Germans stubborn? Wow, when a German’s got his mind to something — then nothing will detract him (or her) from their mission.

Case in point, 3 friends were coming home from a German club one night. The driver stopped the vehicle right in the middle of the street putting his car in park and absolutely refused to move until the €20 he thought was owed was paid right there on the spot.

The funniest part? They were 2 blocks from their house — the passengers could’ve walked home. But, noooo… they decided to argue it out in the middle of the street.

Stubborn? I’d say yes. Argumentative? Too. Maybe there is some merit to this.

Wow, that’s two typical German traits for the price of one story.

Tradition

I’d call it loyalty. Yes, Germans will find a brand they like and stick to it (you know, Mercedes vs. BMW vs. Audi). There’s something comforting in the fact that on the 2nd Saturday of the month when the moon’s in Aquarius with a Venus rising that there’s some event or another going on. Makes it easy to plan things that way.

Why is this a shock? Germans plan, plan, plan. One friend (me) will stare at you for a good 5 minutes before answering a question because he’s thinking how to answer. ;-)

Coldness

One non-German friend said, “the Germans started two World Wars, they’re not exactly the kissy-huggy type”; this in response to a lady asking why her new German boyfriend wasn’t romantically demonstrative in public.

This gives us the impression of being cold. We’re not really, we just believe in formality.

Humor

As cold as the world sees us, we’ve got a funny streak. Silly, nonsense humor isn’t going to do it for us — give us irony or vulgarity and we’re laughing til beer shoots out our nose (which isn’t funny, BTW).

Creative

Ever see a German’s eyes glaze over? They’re in deep thought as how to make something work better, faster, more efficient if you will. Some of the best inventions have come from the logical thought process that is a German brain.

Remember that when you brush your teeth with toothpaste or take some aspirin for a headache.

I would like to add one more.

Orderly

My grandmom used to say, “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” Yes, we’re a bit OCD in the whole keeping order department. We like things tidy with no clutter — chaos is a German’s Kryptonite.

Don’t believe me? Go mess up a German’s desk (kitchen, bathroom, whatever) and watch their whole world spin out of control. I’d gander that would be hilarious — unless you’re German, of course! ;-)

Or if you’d like to get up and travel to wherever your nose takes you? Don’t do that to a German. It has good, valuable reasons to plan out a route first to ensure the most efficient travel experience.

Conclusion

You know what? I must say that I’m happy to be stubborn, argumentative, traditional, cold serious, humorous, creative, and orderly. Oh, and I’m also glad to be efficient, punctual, reliable, meticulous, down-to-earth, honest, and a true friend. :-)

German(s) Outside Of Germany

Monday, March 26th, 2012

I kind of got sidetracked when I originally went to write this. It was supposed to be about cities all over the planet that had a large population of Germans.

But then, that just didn’t seem like enough. As if 17% of the United States’ population being of German decent wasn’t enough, right?

What I found was that over a million people in Australia speak German, and the language is widely spoken in Namibia and parts of South Africa (but that’s about it on the African continent).

I also learned that 20 million people in South America (16 million in Brazil) alone speak German, which is only eclipsed by the 25 million German speakers in North America.

Did you know the first German settlers to the United States (except it wasn’t the U.S. back then) came in the 1680s, who settled in what became known as Germantown, Pennsylvania? The Germans might be gone, but the name still remains as a neighborhood of Philadelphia.

New York wasn’t to be outdone. They had a neighborhood in Manhattan known as Little Germany (Kleindeutschland). By the 1850’s they had the third largest German population, including Germany itself.

Other cities in the U.S. can also boast a large German population: Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh to name a few. Perhaps this is why all sorts of German-American Clubs have sprung up all over, and German-American parades take place on October 6th for German Heritage Day. New York, however, holds their German-American Parade on the 3rd Saturday of September.

What caused this mass emigration of the German population? Sadly, it was war and famine, mostly. (Learn more at the German Emigration Center in Bremerhaven.)

One of the good things to come from all the Germans that left Germany is they spread their culture around the globe, introducing Kindergarten and the Christmas Tree to millions of children and homes in the process.

Think about that the next time you put that star on your tree or send a little one off for their first day of school. ;-)

Celebrate Holidays In Traditional German Style

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Every culture has their own particular way of celebrating their holidays, and the German Culture is no exception. Yes, it’s true that most festive occasions in Deutschland are of a religious nature, and it’s nice to know how the country celebrates.

No need to look like a tourist if you don’t have to. ;-)

Epiphany (Dreikönigstag) Jan 6
Known as Little Christmas, and where you’ll see children singing carols. Everyone’s welcome to eat some Dreikönigskuchen — but it’s supposed to be good luck to whomever eats the lucky object inside.

Candlemas (Mariä Lichtmess) Feb 2
Folks from the U.S. know it as Groundhog Day, but us Germans know this day falls right between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Celebrated exactly 40 days after Christmas, it’s all about the light. That’s why candle blessings are traditionally done.

Carnival (Karneval/Fasching) Feb/Mar
Here’s where things get tricky. The Carnival Season really kicks off on November 11th at 11:11 in the city of Cologne (and the Rhineland) — except during Advent and Christmas. Traditionally, everyone associates the lead-up to the Lenten season within a week of Ash Wednesday (40 days before Easter).

If you’re in the Catholic regions of Germany (generally the South & West of the country), you’re more for partying in a masquerade style parade festival (with lots of drinking); while the Protestant (North & East) are known for a more subdued affair eating Berliners (donuts) and other sweet treats.

Good Friday/Easter (Karfreitag/Ostern) Mar/Apr
Good Friday is a solemn affair in Germany, often without any public performances or even church bells ringing in the town squares. Most people are off work or school at this time (and traditionally not eating any meat but fish), and only true touristy places are even open.

Holy Saturday (the day before Easter) is a lively event (compared to the relative quiet the day before) with Easter bonfires and Easter Markets taking place. Easter Sunday (Ostersonntag) and Easter Monday (Ostermontag) are even more festive, with folks heading off to church and eating a hearty lamb dinner, and presenting kids with the play of searching Easter eggs and gifts (in the garden, living room, etc.).

Walpurgis Night/May Day (Walpurgisnacht/Mayfeiertag) April 30/May 1
Walpurgis Night is said to be the day that witches wait for Spring — but you’ll find plenty of Germans just dancing their hearts out by the bonfires. Hmm, maybe this is why the traditional saying is “Tanz in den Mai,” or Dance into May!

Assumption Day (Mariä Himmelfahrt) Aug 15
Technically this mid-August date isn’t a “public” holiday (except Bavaria and the Saarland), but it’s common for people to head to church AND pick herbs out in the gardens.

Reformation Day (Reformationstag) Oct 31
Sure, it’s Halloween — but it’s also a special date on the Lutheran calendar. It’s a public holiday in the federal states of Baden-Württemberg, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia, celebrated with the Feast of the Protestant Reformation.

Advent (4 weeks prior to Christmas Day)
Almost every German city, town, village, and hamlet have Advent markets, bazaars, and concerts to ring in the joyous season of Christmas. These Christmas/Advent events are legendary — bringing people from all over the world to experience them.

And certainly a terrific way to end a year of celebrations.

You may want to bookmark this page as our holidays are scheduled to stay. ;-)

Origins Of The Prowess Of Germans And German Engineering

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

The other day, Harald Wolf from Canada contacted & asked me a very interesting question about us Germans, our German History, and why we are the way we are.

However, because I’m a greenhorn when it comes to the topic of history (who would’ve believed that… but my favorites in school were Mathematics, English, Geography and Sport), I had to ask our history buff and German History expert, Lisa Keller, in terms of what could be an accurate answer to Harald’s question.

So here it comes… Harald’s question first, Lisa’s response next, and then some final thoughts from yours truly…

Here’s something for you to pick up on, or keep in mind. I’ve been searching for many years for the origins of the prowess you talk about in “German Engineering Is A Leading Engine In Our World.”

Studying the origins of civilization in general is a bit of a hobby of mine, as is early German history. Of course, German history is rather swamped by more recent events, and I get the idea few Germans like to spend a lot of time thinking about the past.

There seem to be several black holes — between the Völkerwanderungen and the rise of the Frankish Empire and during the Dark ages. What events may have contributed to the intense “can-do” National pride that put the Germans among the top technical innovators — and kept them there for longer than any other nation?

Having learned that Germans are at least as much a mixture of races as any other country, I certainly don’t buy Hitler’s Ayrian superiority concept.

How did we get from a bunch of feuding Barbarian tribes to a nation that refuses to play second fiddle to any other nation in innovation and engineering?

If you have any suggestions of where I could find such information, I would appreciate that too. (And yes, I can read German, though with a bit of a struggle when it gets technical.)

Again, excellent question. Here’s Lisa’s response…

I’ve thought long & hard about this question–and you’re probably better able to answer some things better than I could.

But, from a historical standpoint, Germany wasn’t really a technological leader until around the mid-19th century. The country had been in the midst of wars (Peasants’, 30 Years, even the Reformation itself for that matter for the better part of two centuries).

What Germany did have was location, location, location. The country was located on some old major trade routes, it had resources (silver, etc), rivers for navigating around to trade with other countries. And it had food, as much of the country was used for agriculture.

If you ain’t worried about eating–you got time to think about other things, right?

Too bad the church hierarchy and the “guilds” wielded too much power for the common man to change much of the status quo. It wasn’t until Wilhelm II came to power, and wanted to at least be on par with countries like England–wanting to build a navy like the Brits–and a chance to get away from the bureaucratic way of thinking of his father, grandfather, and Otto von Bismarck. He kicked off much of the industrialization that propelled Germany into a technological marvel.

Of course, education comes in to play. Men like Copernicus & Kepler are only two of the brilliant minds that came from Germany educating its population–plus the 20 year battle of the French Revolution helped to bring around changes of equality and liberty to the people–even though all this took place before Wilhelm’s day.

Women were another resource, they made great strides for themselves in the Weimar Republic–until the Nazis came to power, that is.

The Nazis might have used the phrase “Aryan superiority”, but they ostrasized many brilliant minds–forcing the likes of Einstein and others to flee the country. So, no–I don’t “buy” into that either.

My opinion there wasn’t one catalyst event that caused German to become a technological leader. It was (and still is) a combination of events, people, education, and location that leads (and led) Germany from barbaric tribes to all the technological advances it’s made and will continue to do so.

I hope this helps!

Thank you very much, Lisa!

Thinking about it myself, four characteristics usually come up in my mind that could explain how we Germans are and why, and be reasons for the prowess of German Engineering — in addition to what Lisa said above…

Perfectionism — Probably a prime reason, we have a distinct sense and desire for perfectionism. We simply go an important step further and discover and fix flaws where others give up or think it would be “good enough.” It’s not. It’s never good enough.

Discipline — Discipline helps us focus and stay on track. I’m not sure where our tendency towards discipline stems from. Perhaps due to all the wars we had and the “trainings,” “camps” and “drills” we went through and experienced?

Seriousness — Yeah sure, after all those wars (and we really don’t want any other war anymore, ever!) we lost happiness and joy and now go through live in a serious manner — looking down on earth when walking. Kidding aside, our seriousness helps us “get down to business” and focus on the task at hand (rather than get sidetracked by distractions or delayed by dull chatter).

Climate — Germany is ideally located in Central Europe. The climate is not as warm or hot as in, say, Greece or Portugal, nor is it as cold as in Island or Canada. This, too, helps us focus and concentrate to deliver top (and perfected? ;-) products.

A possible fifth reason just popped up in my mind… Silence. We love silence and a quiet environment that helps us relax, enjoy, think, consider, contemplate, focus (again), and concentrate.

70% of our population lives in smaller (& quieter) towns and villages with less than 100,000 inhabitants. With 82 Million people living in 14,000 German towns, they are scattered all over the country — something rare in our world. And these smaller towns and municipalities provide a quieter environment which, again, helps us focus and concentrate on what’s important.

And focus and concentration ultimately leads to better performance, productivity, and products.

(This does not mean Germans don’t love to party. Yet still…)

And speaking of silence, ever noticed that windows in our houses are usually so thick and insulated, they eliminate noise from the outside almost completely?

Again, thank you very much for this excellent question, Harald. Really something to chew on… (although my own response was probably more about the current state rather than historical roots… ;-)

—Marcus

Silvester Is A Modern Day Party Of Ancient New Year’s Traditions

Monday, December 27th, 2010

If you’re lucky enough to ring in the New Year while visiting Germany, you’ll probably want to know all about the traditional New Year’s celebrations here.

Firstly, New Year’s Eve is called Silvester here, as the feast day of Saint Silvester. Silvester was a legendary character, who served as pope and reputedly baptized the famous Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great. He is also said to have cured lepers and have met with members of Jesus Christ’s family — the only pope to have done so.

Silvester gets the honor of having the New Year’s celebrations named after him because his feast day was always marked on December 31. When the calendar was modified all the way back in 1582, this date became fixed as the final day of the year. And so, the holiday of Silvester — New Year’s Eve — took its name from this ancient saint.

Bleigießen is one of the more traditional German New Year’s customs. Bleigießen is fortune-telling with cold water and molten lead. The lead is poured into the liquid, and whatever shape it forms gives an idea of what your future holds.

For example, a ring shape could mean a wedding, or a pig meant a plentiful amount of food in the coming year. A ball means good luck in the coming year, while an anchor means help is needed. A cross can signify death. (Of course, be careful if you choose to celebrate this custom on your own. Lead can be poisonous and you won’t need a molten lead shape to tell you you are in danger if you have too much exposure to this toxic substance!)

There are alternative forms of divination on this holiday as well. You can try out the Bibelstechen, where you open the Bible at random and close your eyes as you point to the words on the page. Whatever verse your finger landed on is said to have some worthwhile advise for the next year.

Then there is the pendulum game. You use some type of pendulous device, a necklace or a chain for example, then ask a yes-or-no question. If the pendulum swings in a circle, the answer is yes. Vertical swings mean no, while a horizontal one signifies uncertainty.

Noise is also an essential part of the Silvester celebrations. While it is a natural by-product of large gatherings of people and fireworks, there is a reason why we Germans have embraced the cacophony of this holiday. Loud sounds were believed to frighten away any evil spirits. And fireworks not only added sound but also an alternative light. The ancients believed that this was the day when the sun stopped moving and so created their own forms of light with wheels and cudgels set ablaze with fire. These were the precursors to our modern-day pyrotechnics.

Warm wishes for luck in the New Year are shared among friends with the cry of Guten Rutsch! (spelled Goo-ten Rootsh!). It is traditional to give your loved ones small good luck charms on this day, like horseshoes, four-leaf clovers, pigs and ladybugs.

If you’re visiting at this time, be sure to have some of the typical holiday fare. It is considered lucky to eat carp or herring on this day, washed down with a glass of champagne. If you’re hoping for more money in the new year, then it’s traditional to eat cabbage or carrots. Lentil and pea soup are also very popular at the holiday.

It’s also customary to share meat or a cheese fondue with your closest family and friends. But watch out for the doughnuts! You may find yourself the victim of a holiday prank if you don’t look inside before you bite into a jelly doughnut. Sometimes you will find them filled with mustard as a fun holiday joke.

But what New Year’s is mostly about these days is the party! Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate hosts one of Germany’s biggest events, but Germans all over the country partake in the festivities. Fireworks, alcohol, kissing and shouts of Frohes Neues Jahr! are all ways of celebrating once the clock strikes midnight. :-)

—Marcus

German Christmas Pickle — The Truth Behind The Tradition

Monday, December 20th, 2010

It is well-known that we Germans helped to popularize the now-beloved symbol of Christmas, the Tannenbaum, or Christmas Tree. But there is another less-famous and somewhat misunderstood tradition of the Christmas pickle.

The legend goes that on Christmas Eve, the German custom was to place a pickle (or a pickle-shaped ornament) in the branches of the Christmas Tree. The parents “hide” the pickle after all the other ornaments have been placed and the first child who finds it is rewarded with an extra gift. If it is an adult who discovers the pickle, they are the recipient of a year’s worth of good luck.

However, the whole legend is a complete myth! If you ask any German about it, most of us have never even heard of this silly tradition! There were some West Germans during the Cold War who believed it must be the practice of East Germans, who had nothing more than pickles with which to decorate their tree. But most East Germans knew nothing more about it than the Westerners did.

So where did this odd story come from?

There are at least two popular versions of the origin of the German Christmas Pickle. Both come to us from the United States.

In the first tale, a Bavarian immigrant was fighting in the American Civil War. As a prisoner of war, he was injured and dying. He begged his guard for just one pickle before his death. The guard was sympathetic and granted the dying soldier’s request. However, this pickle apparently had miraculous restorative powers, and the Bavarian survived.

The second story originates in Berrien Springs, MI, the town which calls itself “The Christmas Pickle Capital of the World.” Their story takes place in medieval Spain.

Two young schoolboys were traveling home for the holidays and stopped at an inn for the night. The innkeeper was a cruel and evil man who imprisoned the boys in a pickle barrel. Lucky for them, St. Nicholas himself was also staying at this inn on the same night. He found the boys and freed them from their pickled prison by using his magic staff.

The town of Berrien Springs has capitalized on this unusual tradition with an annual Christmas Pickle Festival. The festival features a “Dillmeister” who distributes fresh pickles during their parade. And of course, you can buy the famous pickle ornaments all over the town.

So, while the origins of this holiday “tradition” remain clouded in mystery, you can still enjoy your German Christmas Pickles, regardless of whether they actually came from Germany! ;-)

—Marcus

2010 Marks 20 Years Of German Unity

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

Today, October 3rd, 2010, is a unique day in German history. October 3rd is honored as German Unity Day, Tag der Deutschen Einheit. This is the only nationally designated public holiday, and it commemorates the formal reunification of Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In other countries, national unity and independence days are massive holidays. In Germany, our Unity Day is a quieter affair. Berlin usually has some small celebrations, of course, as a part of its duty as our capital. A rotating list of regional capitals also take turns hosting annual celebrations.

Why no big deal over the holiday, you say? Some of the quietness comes from mixed emotions around unification. If this seems shocking to you — after all, who could really want to go back to the Berlin Wall? — remember that unification was a life-changing event for millions of people (me included).

If you lived in East Germany, the unification meant more opportunities for work and travel, but it also marked an end to the established ways of life. Citizens of West Germany rejoiced at the Wall coming down, but resented the monies that were spent on economic stimulus for East Germany and all the new competitors for open jobs. Both sides also associate unification with a new 5.5% solidarity tax (due in West Germany) which was levied to fund the economic development efforts in the East.

Still, I don’t want to give the impression that the majority would be wandering around complaining about the unification of Germany. Quite the opposite! Most people, unless they are deep into ostalgie, consider the German reunification to be a wonderful moment in German history (me included). We just don’t spend the holiday in loud celebrations. With the day off from work and shops closed, we use the day to spend time with family and friends.

This year, however, due to the 20th anniversary, the celebrations will be a tad louder. :-)

As a visitor in Germany on Unity Day, to see celebrations you will want to be in Berlin or in this year’s regional host, Bremen. Berlin’s festivities will be centered around the Brandenburg Gate and the Straße des 17. Juni with a parade, some live music, and numerous ceremonies here and there. In Bremen, there will be a city-wide festival or Bürgerfest, with ceremonial moments happening throughout the city.

If you stay in, note that the television program schedules are full of retrospectives, and many German media outlets are in a reflective mode for this 20th anniversary. Though it is a quieter event than in other parts of the world, Germany’s Unity Day is still being observed on many fronts. Plus, this year’s round of celebrations are going to be larger than most, so take the time to enjoy them! :-)

And of course, if you can’t make it this time, simply enjoy the quadlingual live stream television broadcast DW-TV over at DW World, my preferred TV program for when I’m not in my beloved home country.

—Marcus

Oktoberfest Overweeningly Celebrates 200 Years

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

With Oktoberfest just underway, there’s still some time to celebrate and experience this essential south German holiday, even if you couldn’t or can’t make it there in person this year. 2010 is a milestone year for this Bavarian tradition, as it celebrates 200 years of fun, food and beer.

Here are some of the festival’s most enduring traditions and experiences.

The Beer

What would Oktoberfest be without the BEER? There are about fourteen huge beer tents where you can enter (at no charge) and drink to your heart’s content.

You don’t want to miss the Hofbräu Festzelt, the largest and most popular — at least with the tourists — of them all. The festive music of the oom-pah bands is a highlight of the Hofbräu’s tent, as well as their signature brew, Hofbräu. In fact, there are six breweries that are represented at Oktoberfest.

In addition to Hofbräu, you can try Spaten, Lowenbrau, Paulaner (that’s where I usually found the most beautiful ladies), Augustiner or Hacker Pschorr. Generally, these are served in a one-liter beer stein where you can (barely) raise the glass and toast your fellow revelers with the German word for Cheers! — Prost! :-)

The Date

Many people wonder why Oktoberfest actually begins in September. We Germans do, in fact, know our dates and have a reason for this discrepancy.

The first Oktoberfest began as a wedding celebration for Crown Prince (and later King) Ludwig I. He married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on October 7, 1810. Five days after, on October 12, Ludwig decided to hold a horse race in honor of his recent nuptials. The event was such a success, that he did it again the following year. By 1816, there was already a carnival feel to the festival with new booths and events.

They eventually decided to move the festival into September. One reason was that the weather was a bit nicer and milder at that time. In 1994, it was modified again to end with German Unity Day on October 3.

The length of Oktoberfest is dependent on what date the first Sunday of the month happens to be.

The Food

When you’ve drunk your fill of that delicious German beer, there’s no better accompaniment than some traditional Bavarian food. Some Oktoberfest specialties include pork knuckles (Haxn), spit-roasted chicken (Hendl), skewers of grilled whitefish (Steckerlfisch) and of course, German sausage (Wurstl).

And don’t overlook the snacks! Bavaria is famous for its over-sized pretzels (Brezel) and almonds glazed with sugar (Gebrannte Mandeln).

The Dancing

Music is an important part of Oktoberfest. All the beer tents will feature oom-pah bands or other traditional music. And with music, of course, there’s plenty of dancing opportunities. The most famous of these traditional dances is the Chicken Dance!

To begin, make your fingers into the shape of a chicken beak, opening and closing them. Next is the arm-flapping, with your elbows out and hands under your armpits. Then comes the bended knees and body-wiggling. Finally, stand up again, clap your hands and spinning in a circle or grab a partner and spin with them.

Each move is repeated four times, and gets faster as the song plays on.

And the advanced version is to do the aforementioned on the tables. ;-)

The Funfair

The Funfair has been another vital part of the Oktoberfest celebrations since the 19th century. There are roller coasters, Ferris wheels and other thrill rides. There’s even more food available here on the Budenstraße, or Avenue of Booths, and games of chance.

And don’t forget the souvenir and numerous other stands, where you can buy/shoot/play/box something that will help you to always remember your time at our Oktoberfest.

—Marcus

German’s Generous Spirits Rank High In World Giving Index

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Germany is full of kind, generous people. Don’t think I’m biased just because I’m German — here’s yet another proof!

The 2010 World Giving Index has been released by the Charities Aid Foundation. The organization used hard numbers from the Gallup Corporation to determine which world nations were the most charitable overall.

Donating money to charitable causes, performing volunteer work, and being willing to help a stranger or someone you didn’t know were the main points going into the World Giving Index. However, the Charities Aid Foundation also looked at the breakdown between men and women, old and young, and happiness of the country as a whole when they were figuring their numbers.

Germany did very well in the poll. We are ranked 18th worldwide for our generous spirits. Out of 153 countries, that’s doing pretty good!

Some of the other interesting points that the report had to make about Germany were that 49% of us are giving money each month to a charitable cause. Men volunteer just slightly more hours per month than women, but almost 30% of the population of Germany volunteers time every month. An amazing 56% of us will help a stranger, one of the highest scores of any of the European nations.

According to the report, one of the main drivers of giving in all countries was happiness instead of wealth. The more a nation was giving, the happier and more satisfied with life were its citizens. I think this also reflects very well on Germany, don’t you?

Really, the report is just a nice bit of proof to back up what most people will experience when they come to Germany. All of the fairs, festivals, and special events that we are famous for depend on the charitable giving and volunteer hours put in by the hosting towns.

From the massive regional volunteer effort that it takes to put on something like Oktoberfest — starting this Saturday! — to the focused local effort it takes to put on something like the Oberammergau Passion Play, Germany runs on the goodwill and kind hearts of its people.

I know it, and you know it, too, if you’ve been here.

Thanks to this survey, now the whole world can know! ;-)

—Marcus

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