German Culture


Daily life in Germany is vastly different from Western culture. You’ll find most businesses are closed from noon to two each day so everyone can return home to have a mid-day dinner with family. Saturday business hours are usually half-day, and many businesses aren’t open at all on Sunday.

The noon meal is the largest of the day in Germany. It consists of pork, beef, or poultry accompanied by potato or noodle dishes, vegetables, and salads. Breakfast and supper are smaller meals; usually brotchen (bread), sliced deli meats and cheeses. Most German people shop for food everyday or every other day, purchasing breads and pastries at the Backerie, fresh meat at the Meztgerie, and vegetables and fruits at the Marktplatz, or outdoor market.

Try out some great German Recipes here.

Terms of address are more formal in Germany. Men and women are greeted as Herr and Frau; the doctor is Herr Doktor (or Frau Doktor). It is customary to shake hands when greeting someone. “Auf wiedersehen” is the formal way of saying goodbye, but “tschuss” (pronounced shoos) is the more familiar way of saying it, used with friends and family.

German schoolchildren attend Kindergarten, and then Grundschule through fourth grade. Beginning in fifth grade, the children are sent to different schools depending upon their academic abilities: some attend Hauptschule, the general school; others attend Realschule, an intermediate school; and still others attend either Gymnasium for gifted students, or Gesamptschule, a comprehensive school of mixed disciplines. Those who attend Hauptschule or Realschule follow up with vocational training and apprenticeships. Those who attend Gymnasium or Gesamptschule usually go on to University.

Travel, activities, and games revolve around family and friends. Most events involve festivals, parades, food, decorations, music and beer. The most famous is Oktoberfest, which begins the third week of September and ends the first weekend in October. Fasching, or Karneval, celebrates the period before Lent. It begins on November 11 and 11:11 a.m. and ends Rosenmontag, 42 days before Easter.

There are a number of activities that take place in and around German castles throughout the year. In Heidelberg, there are “castle burnings,” fireworks and castle illumination at times of celebration. At Neuschwanstein, tourists ride up the hill to the castle in horse-drawn carriages.

Take a look at all the beautiful German castles


The Munich Zoo, the oldest Geo-Zoo in the world, is a popular family destination in the summer months. In winter, Kristkindlmarkts (Christmas Markets) are held all over the country. Open-air booths are set up in the shopping districts showcasing foods, crafts, and decorations. There are more than 1,200 wine festivals held each year, and outdoor biergartens (beer gardens) are popular meeting spots.

German people enjoy games and music. Tongue twisters, or Zugenbrecher, are an ongoing challenge. Folk songs, or volkslieder, are part of many festivals and parades. Often, brass bands will play music at biergartens and outdoor cafes. Yodeling and schuhplattler, a traditional dance using jumps and hip movements, are still enjoyed.

Learn some Zugenbrecher and volkslieder here!