Germany is a nation with a rich and complex history but in recent years it has mostly been known for its efficiency, strong work ethic and ‘planning culture’. However, utilitarian facts certainly aren’t the only notable things about German culture.
Concise planning and high-level execution are attributes which dominate the German business environment but despite the expectation that work will be completed on time and to a reasonable standard, extensive overtime or unreasonable hours are not common or advocated. Consequently Germany is considered to have one of the best work/life balances in Europe.
The country is considered by many as having a rather formal and distanced communication style in which titles are given great importance.
Although this is an important way of showing respect in German culture the formality is sometimes taken for rudeness by foreigners.
Despite the wide ranging types of cohabitation in modern times Germans still typically favour strong family units. They are also known to take a great deal of pride in their homes and to put effort into keeping public spaces clean and presentable.
Although Germany’s large cities are bustling hubs of modernity parts of the nation remain steeped in ancient tradition, folk law and superstition. Many classic fairy-tales (like Hansel and Gretel) were first woven within reach of Germany’s Black Forest.
Germany has several national holidays which aren’t celebrated in many other nations, including the Christian feast day Epiphany on the 6th January.
Holidays specific to Germany include Reunification Day on the 3rd October, Reformation Day on 31st October and the second day of Christmas on the 26th December.
Some of the most popular German festivals are described below.
Karneval is the German equivalent of Mardi Gras, a week-long celebration which takes place before the fasting and religious observance of Lent. There are carnivals, parades and extensive costume wearing.
This is the biggest holiday in Munich Bavaria and the world’s largest festival. Oktoberfest began in the early 1800’s (although the famed beer tents weren’t added until the close of that century) and now attracts around 6 million visitors every year. It lasts 16 days with the beer-based celebrations coming to a close on the first Sunday of October.
Christmas is big in Germany. Really big. In fact it’s probably the nation’s most important holiday. A whole month of celebration days begin on the first Sunday after November 26th. The next four Sundays are known as advent Sundays and on December 6th German children leave a shoe on their doorstops for St. Nicholas to fill with treats. Christmas trees are traditionally put up and decorated on Christmas Eve and both the 25th and 26th of December are known as Christmas day. On the 25th churchgoing and spending time with family is common while the 26th is devoted to feasting and friends.
The Christmas tree we all know and love also originated in Germany, only becoming a British tradition because of Queen Victoria’s German husband Prince Albert.