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German culture, customs and clarity

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-thinkingphilosophers. 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 Frankfurt Rhine-Main 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. Afterall, 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 bank holidays occur – are the most popular vacation times for Germans.

Good Etiquette

You are well advised to familiarize yourself with some of the basic customs and etiquette in Germany.


Good day!

A large portion of the German rules of etiquette are as good as universal. Some of it involves simple common sense.


You Can Say You to Me

Closely aligned to this formality is the obligation to use the “Sie” form of address with people you don‘t know that well.


Right Time, Right Place

As you have probably gathered, Germans tend to believe strongly in the concept of a right place and right time for everything.


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The Pub Culture

Pub-hopping is a favorite activit y throughout German society, and can be a good way to meet new people or solidify relations already begun.


Not Rude, but Honest

One thing to prepare yourself for is the slap of candor: Germans can be rather blunt when they offer stern advice or criticism.


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