German Culture: Facts, Customs and Traditions

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This article explores German culture, which dates back to the beginning of the first millennium. Over time, the culture has evolved, influenced by historical events that have shaped not only Germany but the entire European continent.

The people, language, and traditions are what make the German culture unique. It has had a key role in the history of Europe, and not only. English speakers call it Germany, Germans themselves call it Deutschland. Germany is known as the country of poets and thinkers.

German culture has been influenced and shaped throughout Germany‘s rich history once as an important part of The Holy Roman Empire, and later on as one of the most stable economies in the world.

Whereas today, Germany is home to 84.4 million people, including Germans and minorities of other nationalities, that respect each other and together make Germany a country of values, unique celebrations, and customs.

Firstly, here are some facts about today’s Germany:

  • Though English-speaking countries call it Germany, Germans themself call it Deutschland.
  • It is called Germania in Latin, l’Allemagne in French, and Almanya in Turkish.
  • Berlin is its capital, but Hamburg, Munich, and Cologne are also among the main cities of Germany.
  • According to the Federal Statistics Office, it is estimated that the average woman in Germany lives around 83.3 years, while the average man lives 78.5 years.
  • The main language is German, and the dominant religion is Christianity.

There are a lot of stereotypes about Germans, such as that they drink a lot of beer (which is true), they are hardworking and punctual (which is also true), and that the rate of unemployment in Germany is very low, with 5.7% of the labor force unemployed as of 2023 (true again).

Language

The German language is spoken by approximately 95% of the population in Germany, with the majority using it as their first language. Additionally, many individuals in Germany also speak German as their second language. However, the German state has recognized four minority languages, which are the

  • Upper and Lower Sorbian
  • Romani 
  • Danish 
  • North and Saterland Frisian.

Because of the high number of immigrants, there are also languages spoken by a sizable number of communities, such as Turkish, Kurdish, Russian, Greek, Albanian, Polish, etc.

Clothing

bavarian clothing

Today, the average German dress is typically Western. Both men and women wear dark simple suits and shirts in a business context. However, each region of the country has its own traditional costumes, which differ a bit from one another. 

For example, in the state of Bavaria, the traditional costume for men is the Lederhosen—leather trousers that end just above the knee, while for women, it is a dress called Dirndl that incorporates a bodice, blouse, full skirt, and an apron. You can see people wearing these costumes, especially during carnivals or festivals.

Religion

In Germany, a percentage of 65% to 70% of people identify as Christians, approx. 30% of them as Catholics, and around 30% as protestants. There is also a Muslim minority of 2 to 4%. 

A number as high as 35% do not identify themselves as having any religion or belonging other than Christianity or Muslim. The combined total of all other religious denominations in Germany amounts to just one percent of the population.

Symbolism

German symbols have changed through different phases in history alongside the events that have shaped its culture and traditions.

  • Coat of Arms. The German coat of arms features a black eagle with a red beak and claws set against a golden background. This symbolizes strength and sovereignty.
  • Brandenburg Gate. Located in Berlin, the Brandenburg Gate is an iconic landmark symbolizing German unity and peace. It has played a significant role in German history.
  • The National Flag of Germany.  Today the most known symbol of the country is its flag. The flag consists of three horizontal stripes of black, red, and gold. These colors are associated with various historical and political movements in Germany.

    Literature

    Germany is one of the leading nations when it comes to reading, too. The German publishers publish around 93,600 thousand new books each year, and the International Frankfurt Book Fair (Frankfurter Buchmesse), which is the most important book event in the world, is held in Germany. 

    Many don’t know, but the first-ever known magazine was printed in German—the German Erbauliche Monaths-Unterredungen.

    According to research conducted by Allensbach Media Market Analysis, 44.6% of the German population read a book at least once a week, while 58.3% of Germans buy at least one book per year.

    Philosophy

    Some of the most famous philosophers were born and lived in Germany, like Immanuel Kant, German philosopher Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche, who spent their whole lives in Germany.  On the other hand, the developers of the communist theory, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, were also Germans.

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