Schöne Bescherung

When days grow short and snowflakes fall (not!), many people like to snuggle up in cosy cotton and enjoy a cuppa. Others prefer to explore a different kind of Gemütlichkeit abroad. One of the big German winter tourism attractions are the Christmas markets, the most famous one being the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg. But who or what is Christkindle and how do Germans celebrate Christmas? Let’s take a peek… Read more

Nimble fingers

This week’s text is a sequel to my German entry Fingerfertigkeit. Have you ever seen a German shake their fist at someone? No, I don’t mean in the menacing wait-till-I-get-you! kind of way of James Bond villains. I mean in a kind, encouraging manner, smiling and wishing the other person luck. How does the luck get into the fist is what you’re asking? You’ll find out in a minute. Read more

Very special bread!

When not only one’s heart begins to wander but one’s body eventually follows, one of the items that one misses most when roaming abroad are baking goods. They are different not only in each country but in every region. Let’s look at some German bread specialties. Read more

The land of Me

Have you ever been to a shop in Britain? It’s lovely. First off, Anglo-Saxons have a natural urge to queue. It’s like the click of a buckle – they snap into place, no elbows or headlocks involved. Just like driving in the UK, it is utterly relaxing (when you’re used to German roads). Also, checkout assistants are usually friendly and will exchange a few words or even banter with customers. You think that’s a given? Here’s your pep talk for shopping in Germany. Read more

Booty

If you live in Germany, you may have noticed that, on the evening of the 5th December, children put their boots – or sometimes just one boot – outside their front door. The next morning, these boots can mysteriously be found filled with gifts, such as a fir branch, nuts, tangerines, chocolate and one or two small presents. What is that strange custom, so shortly before Christmas? Read more

The Crime Scene

Have you ever asked a German what she does on Sunday night? Try it! A great deal of my fellow countrypeople will say, ‘Sunday night is Tatort night!’ You (and many Germans) may think of it what you will, but you can’t begin to grasp the German psyche without investigating (pun intended) the Tatort (= crime scene) phenomenon. Let’s embark on a somewhat bumpy journey through German television history. Read more

The Meadow

It’s the world’s most famous beerfest. And it used to be strictly Munich. In recent years, though, in the first weeks of autumn, shop windows all over Germany have been displaying an increasingly higher number of traditional Bavarian costumes. What is this Oktoberfestisation? Read more

Rough and ready

Thinking back to my blog post of the other day about quintessential Britishness, I wondered what my English husband would consider the most German thing of all German things. And then I remembered his horror when we first set foot into our first joint flat in Germany. Read more

German and English

In warm countries, there’s quite a bit of creeping and crawling an average Central European is unfamiliar with. When I lived in Sydney, Australia, for a year, we had a certain type of small cockroach in the kitchen. When I asked my Australian flatmate what they are and how we can get rid of them, she just said, ‘They’re German cockroaches. You can’t get rid of them.’ (I’ll just leave that uncommented for you to feast on.) What else is ‘German’ in English and vice versa? Read more

Big business

Last week, we visited the bathroom. It’s only a small step further to a facility that lends itself to extensive cultural studies. In many Asian countries, the sounds produced by a person using a WC are considered very private and shouldn’t be witnessed by other people under any circumstances. Therefore, lavatories are often equipped with sound machines imitating the flush to mask any possibly embarrassing noise (replacing the use of the actual flush, which had led to an exorbitant waste of water). So what about Germany? Here’s a bit of German loo etiquette. Read more