Culture and etiquette in Germany
Getting by in a new culture centers on absorbing the new, local practices inside and outside the office. When you have a handle on them, your new life in Germany will be that extra bit more enjoyable.
A big part of a successful stay anywhere is simply enjoying the country and its people. One giant step towards realizing that goal in Germany is to get a good grasp of German culture and customs. In talking about German “culture”, we don’t just mean opera, concerts, serious novels, and deep-thinking philosophers. We’re using the term broadly to include things such as eating and drinking, sports, holidays and just chilling out and having fun.
Germans are understandably proud of their achievements in the arts and you will find no shortage of “highbrow culture” offerings in the FrankfurtRhineMain region. While lovers of “serious” music should, for example, keep an eye out for the fantastic Rheingau Musik Festival which takes place each year in the late summer, here we want to focus on the broader picture. What better place to start than to ask what makes Germany uniquely German? This can be a hard question to answer these days, as Germany itself is a melting pot and has thus taken on board the influences of many other cultures over the last half century. Yet there are still elements that make life in Germany different from what you’ll see in most other places.
Forget that old prejudice that Germans don’t know how to have a good time. The fact is Germans love having fun – at the right time and place. Germans are strong believers in the adage that there’s a right time and place for everything. When they work, they work hard. When it is time to play, they play hard. And as you’ll soon learn, if you haven’t already, there are plenty of opportunities for that in Germany. After all, standard work contracts here provide 25-30 days of paid holiday, to be broken up or taken at one go, it’s up to you.
A popular strategy is to maximize the amount of consecutive free days by scheduling vacations around weekends and the many official holidays. Thus, May and June – when a string of holidays occur – are the most popular vacation times for Germans.