German Culture and Traditions

A Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) in Bavaria, Germany.
A Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) in Bavaria, Germany.

Germany has an extensive culture that spans among almost all of the nations that speak German. Historically, the German culture has been influenced by great minds and intellectuals that led to the nation earning the description of a nation full of poets and thinkers. Some of the internationally recognized cultures from Germany include festivals like Oktoberfest and Weihnachten. As a modern society, Germany has made leaps in things like gender equality, same-sex marriage, and the promotion of rights for disabled people. The nation’s perspective about immigrants has also changed considerably in the last decade. The government is making more of an effort in recognizing immigrants.

The German Language

The official language of Germany is German, which is also among the 23 official languages used by the European Union. In addition, German is one of the working languages of the European Commission together with French and English. Other minor languages also spoken in Germany include Danish, North Frisian, Sorbian, and Saterland Frisian. All of these minor languages are under the umbrella of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML).

Close relatives of the standard German include English, Frisian languages, and Dutch. The language is also related to a smaller degree to North and the now extinct East Germanic languages. Standard German is easily distinguishable from the various dialects, which are mostly local languages. This distinguishability comes from the fact that the dialects use different syntax, lexicon, and phonology.

In total, about 100 million people around the world can speak German natively with about 80 million speaking it as a second language. Within the EU countries, about 18% of the population (around 90 million people) can speak German.

Religion in Germany

The dominant religion in Germany is Christianity. Data shows that about 59.4% of the population practices Christianity. Of this percentage of Christians, 30% are Roman Catholics while Protestants account for a slightly lesser percentage of 29%. Geographically, Protestants dominate the northern and eastern regions of Germany while the Roman Catholics are dominant in the southern and western regions. In recent times, however, there has been a growing number of non-religious groups in parts such as Hamburg. At some point, however, there was a time that the whole of Germany was almost wholly under the Holy Empire of the Roman Catholic Church.

Religion has heavily influenced German culture and traditions with Weihnachten (Christmas) being the largest holiday. Several events lead to the Weihnachten celebrations. On the fourth Sunday before Christmas, an Advent wreath adorned with four candles is hung up. Each Sunday, one of the candles is lit while Christmas carols are sung. An Advent calendar is given to children with 24 little door, each filled with a small treat, to count down the days to Christmas. Nikolaustag, another Christmas tradition, takes place on December 6th. On the eve of Nikolaustag, a boot is placed at the front door to be filled with treats by Nikolaus. Almost every town has a Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) leading up to the holiday. On Heiligabend (Christmas Eve) a Weihnachtsbaum (Christmas tree) is either bought or cut down and brought into the house to be decorated. The family attends a church service, which usually contains a Krippenspiel (nativity play) and afterwards returns home to open the presents placed under the tree. 

German Cuisine

German food varies in the various regions of the state. For example, the southern regions of Swabia and Bavaria are known for similar foods with nations like Austria and Switzerland. The main types of meat eaten in the larger Germany include pork, poultry, and beef although the most popular one is pork. The meat is not usually eaten directly but mostly in the form of a sausage. In fact, there are more than a whopping 1,500 varieties of sausages that come from Germany.

Breakfast is usually a serious affair since it includes an assortment of bread, honey, boiled eggs, cheese, and other foods. Unlike other European cultures, the consumption of cereal is not widespread. Bread is more popular with at least 300 varieties.

The population of immigrants has also been able to integrate their cuisines into the culture as well. For example, Italians have been able to introduce pasta and pizza while the Turkish and the Arabs introduced foods like falafel and doner kebabs. The national drink in Germany is beer despite the growing popularity of wine in recent years. In fact, the nation has one of the highest figures of beer consumption per individual. Data shows that, among drinkers, one person drinks a whopping 30 gallons of beer every year. Oktoberfest is the world's largest beer festival. It is held annually in Munich from late September to early October. The festival has inspired similar festivities around the world.

German Philosophy

Germany has produced some great philosophers including Albertus Magnus from the Middle Ages, Leibniz in the 17th century, and the famous Immanuel Kant. In the 21st century, Germany has been key in developing analytic philosophy in Europe together with nations such as France, Scandinavian states, Switzerland, and Austria. These great minds from Germany have come up with interesting questions such as the relationships between faith and other ways of viewing the world. In addition, there have been great minds of sociology such as Marcuse, Adorno, Weber, and others.

German Architecture

Some of the most known architecture styles from Germany include the Ottonian and Carolingian architectures, both of which came before Roman architecture. Other significant styles include Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance styles. Germany was also crucial in early modern styles and developments through movements like the Bauhaus and the Deutscher Werkbund. In contemporary times, however, most people have come to shun German architecture due to its lack of aesthetic appeal.

Sports in Germany

Sports are popular in Germany with about 27 million Germans being members of a sports club. An additional 12 million people pursue sports individually. With a little over six million members, football (soccer) is the most widespread sport. In fact, among all the national sports organizations in the world, the German Football Association is the biggest. The German football team has won the World Cup a number of times and the local Bundesliga is globally popular. Germany is also a global leader in motorsports such as Formula One, which is dominated by German companies like Mercedes Benz and BMW.


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