i still think that the most german thing is not beer or brezeln, in my opinion its asparagus time because in which other country do you have like 80million people eating tons of aspargus nonstop, without ever taking a break for weeks on end. like we literally celebrate asparagus season with meeting up to eat our beloved Spargel and Spargel only.. and Idk but if thats not the most german thing than i dont know what it
German Culture is buying single bottles only bc youre a student living by your damn self; then standing in front of a pfandflaschenautomat with a giant sack of empty pfandbottles, putting them in, one after the other. sometimes you have to try multiple times to get the hell-o-mat to accept your damn bottle. the queue behind you is growing and growing but you still have 56 bottles left. one bottle just wont go in. just wont. you put it on top of the automat, sweating profusely. the people behind you are coughing impatiently. you apologise, laughing awkwardly. the hell machine beeps suddenly. She’s Full. the whole queue groans. a woman is so kind and gets a shop assistant to empty the automat. you say thank you. the shop assistant rolls their eyes and leaves. you continue your darstardly deed.
On September 24th 61.5 million German voters will decide on the central decision in their democracy: who should represent them in Parliament and eventually govern the country? Elections to the German Bundestag (like our House of Representatives) are held about every four years, with the last election having been held in fall of 2013.
In grade school, most Germans are taught about the five principles in the Basic Law which stipulate that the members of the Bundestag be elected in “general, direct, free, equal and secret elections”. “General” means that all German citizens are able to vote once they have reached the age of 18. The elections are “direct” because citizens vote for their representatives directly without the mediation of delegates to an electoral college. “Free” means that no pressure of any kind may be exerted on voters. “Equal” means that each vote cast carries the same weight with respect to the composition of the Bundestag. “Secret” means that each individual must be able to vote without others learning which party or candidate he or she has chosen to support.
Where Do You Vote?
Germans have the options of voting at polling stations for example in community centers or schools, or sending in their vote by mail.
So. Many. Parties.
Germany has a lot more political parties than the United States. This is due to the fact that the German electoral system uses a proportional system, which means that all parties get a share of the available seats that reflect their share of the popular vote. However, not to have too many political factions which would make the decision making process nearly impossible – and Parties can get pretty specific as to what they stand for – Germany implemented the “five per cent clause” which means a party needs at least five percent of the votes cast to be represented in the Bundestag.
According to the German Research Institute the following parties are likely to be represented in the next German Bundestag, as they are expected to satisfy the five per cent clause:
CDU/CSU (the Union parties): a political alliance of the two parties
representing conservative Christian-democratic policies, political home
of the current Chancellor Angela Merkel and part of the governing “grand
SPD: the center-left social democratic party promoting “socially just”
policies, the other member of the currently governing “grand coalition”
Die Linke: “the left” party – a democratic socialist and left-wing populist party
BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN: the green party which traditionally focuses on topics such as environmental protection
FDP: the “free democratic” party - a (classical) liberal political party
AfD: a right-wing populist and Eurosceptic party newly founded in 2013
First and Second Vote
Voters actually have two decisions to make when they go to their polling booth. This part can get tricky.
The first vote is for the representative of your district. There are 299 electoral districts in Germany and the winner of each district gets a seat in the Bundestag.
The second vote is debatably the more important vote, which is cast not for a person but for a party. The number of seats a party gets in the Bundestag is based on what proportion they get of the second votes. Since the first votes for district representatives take up 299 seats of the Bundestag, the remaining 299 seats are filled up by representatives of each party until each party is proportionally represented.
And now it’s going to get really complicated (also for Germans, believe it or not): In case a party gets more directly elected candidates by the first votes than proportional seats by the second votes, these candidates nonetheless remain part of the new Bundestag. This is called an “Überhangmandat”. The other parties then get seats added proportionally which makes the Bundestag even bigger. The last four years, because of this phenomenon there were in total 631 Members of the German Bundestag instead of the legally foreseen 598.
“Coalition” is not a word used in American politics. Coalitions are alliances formed by different parties in the Bundestag to end up with a group that makes up more than 50% of the seats. Traditionally the party with the most votes tries to form a coalition first. Typically coalitions have been comprised by two parties in the past, but in the future coalitions of three or more parties could be a reality. Why do this? Due to the voting system which is a proportional and not a majority one, this is in most cases the only way to create a majority in the Bundestag which is necessary to pass laws. The coalition parties tend to negotiate a coalition agreement at the start of their cooperation which lays out their policy goals for the coming legislative period. Though the majority party within the coalition typically has more sway in what stance the coalition will take on certain issues – such as who the Chancellor will be – the smaller party benefits from the coalition by typically receiving several Minister positions (think Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, etc.) which are filled with members of their party. They might also enforce some stances on their core political issues as long as they can get the “bigger” coalition partner to agree in the negotiations.
German elections are general, direct, free, equal, and secret
Germans vote in person or via mail
There are a bunch of parties to choose from representing the full political spectrum from far left to far right
Two votes: a first vote for a specific candidate representing your
district and a second vote for your party determining the number of
seats per party
A Coalition is formed after all votes are in to create a group that holds more than 50% of the Bundestag seats
Got more questions? Shoot them to us in the comments below!
I haven’t seen a post that really depicts the history of Rwanda yet. So here’s my little contribution. By the way, thanks for the posts you reblogged.
Before the colonization, Rwanda was made of three social classes : Tutsi (10-15%), Hutu (over 80%) and Twa (less than 1%). Tutsi (upper social class) were cattle breeders, Hutu were farmers and Twa (lower social class) were hunters. One could become Tutsi or Hutu by marriage for example. They all had the same language, same religion and same culture.
German settlers arrived in Rwanda in the end of 19th century. They thought that Tutsi were more intelligent and more beautiful (according to European beauty standards of course : tall, skinny, light-skinned, thin nose, thin lips etc.). They thought that Hutu were boor, stupid and ugly (again, according to European beauty standards : shorter, huge lips, large nose etc). Twa were very short and seen as a species between humans and monkeys. After losing WWI, Germany gave Rwanda (and Burundi, which is like the twin of Rwanda with same language, same social classes etc) to Belgium. Belgians thought the same as Germans and started to gather all Rwandans and measure their height, their nose, etc to see if they were from the superior race (aka Tutsi) or inferior race (aka Hutu (or Twa but Twa were a very small minority)). Because of that, some Hutu became Tutsi just because they “looked” Tutsi and vice versa. Belgians privileged Tutsi over Hutu. They said only Tutsi could rule the country because they were the only intelligent ones. Tutsi were privileged in administration, education etc. Eventually in the 50s, Tutsi Rwandans asked for independence and Belgians didn’t want to lose their colony so they started to talk to Hutu who’d been discriminated against for a few decades. They said : “Look how Tutsi despise you! They think only they can rule the country but this country is yours! They don’t even come from here, they stole your land (there’s a myth saying that Twa were the first inhabitants in Rwanda, Hutu came from West Africa and Tutsi were the last ones to arrive in Rwanda and forced Hutu to subject to them). You have to rebel against Tutsi supremacy!” So that’s what Hutu did in 1959. The Tutsi King fled. Hutu killed thousands of Tutsi with the support of Belgian settlers and Catholic church, and hundreds thousands of Tutsi had to flee to Uganda and Tanzania. Rwanda became a Republic in 1961 and Rwandans elected a Hutu president named Kayibanda. Finally Rwanda became independent in 1962.
The president Kayibanda was an extremist and under his leadership, thousands of Tutsi were killed in 1963 and in 1972, just for being Tutsi. Their homes were burnt, they were stolen and beaten up. They were fired from their jobs, fired from schools. And hundreds thousands of them fled outside the country. In 1973, a Hutu man staged a coup d'état and became president. His name’s Habyiarimana He seemed a little bit more accepting of Tutsi but he still didn’t want the Tutsi exiles to come back. Because of that, the Tutsi exiles with the help of Hutu political opponents who had also fled created an army called PRF (Patriotic Rwandan Front) to come back to Rwanda by force, in 1987. The PRF declared war against the Rwandan government in 1990 and the war went on until 1994. During those 4 years, innocent Tutsi were killed or imprisonned by the government every time PRF tried to attack the government army. There was a huge propaganda against Tutsi (through the Radio for example) and that propaganda made Hutu think that Tutsi wanted to take back the power like under the Belgian colonization. Therefore, every Tutsi was an enemy.
On April 6, 1994, the president’s plane was shot down. Hutu extremists might be responisble for that. The day after, moderate Hutu were killed by extremist Hutu and the genocide of Tutsi started, which made about 1 million victims in 3 months. Rwanda’s population was about 7 millions at that time. The genocide was planned and organised by the Hutu extremist government (as I said, the moderate members were killed) and executed by militia who recruited Hutu civilians and gave them machetes, grenades, and guns.
France had been an ally of Rwanda since its independence. France helped Rwanda fight back against the PRF during the war until end of 1993. France also trained Rwandan soliders (the army was made of 5,000 men in 1990 and 35,000 men in 1994 because of France). France gave arms and ammunition to Rwanda even after the genocide started. France never asked President Habyirimana to stop discrimination and killings of Tutsi. Actually the French President and Habyirimana were good friends. In June 1994, France decided to take action in Rwanda, officially to save Tutsi but its intention is very contested today and we think their main goal was to not let the PRF win the war, because if they did, Rwanda would become English-speaking (PRF was made of people who grew up in Uganda and Tanzania so they spoke English) instead of French-speaking and France still wanted Rwanda to be French-speaking so that they could have an influence on it. The thing is the PRF was actually liberating Tutsi by chasing the Hutu extremist killers so fighting against them meant letting more Tutsi being killed. France or French politicians have never been sentenced for that.
Belgium also was an ally of Rwanda until 1991 when they stopped supporting Rwanda because of the murders of Tutsi.
While the genocide was happening, even though everyone knew it was a genocide, the UN didn’t want to admit it was, because otherwise they would have had to take action and almost no country wanted to send their soldiers to Rwanda.
I really, really, wanted to emphasize some things: 1. Colonization played a big role in Rwanda self-destruction 2. Tutsi were discriminated against and killed for years before the genocide of 1994 happened 3. The genocide didn’t happen because the president’s plane was shot down. Extermination plans were already known by France and UN for months/years. It is important to remember that, because in the West, people like to think that Hutu turned crazy just because their president was killed and it doesn’t really surprise anyone because “Africans are savage and violent and uncivilised anyways”. 4. The genocide could have been avoided or at least there could have been way less victims if the UN and the rest of the world had cared about the 1 million innocent people who were being slaughtered (mostly Tutsi but also Hutu who tried to protect Tutsi)
If anyone wants to ask questions I’ll be glad to answer.
Today is “Volkstrauertag” (people’s day of mourning) in Germany. It’s is always two sundays before advent. Germany remembers today those who have died in wars or due to the violence of an oppressive goverment.
The first time the “Volkstrauertag” was held was for the fallen in World war one in 1919. But it wasn’t a offical/legal holiday yet.
The Nazis made “Heldengedenktag” (Day of Commemoration of Heroes) out of the “Volkstrauertag”. And basically they gave it a totally diffrent meaning. They worshiped the heros instead of remembering the dead. Last time “Heldengedenktag” was held was in 1945.
After the second world war it changed to “Volkstrauertag” again. It was first a day to remember the fallen of both world wars but later it changed again and now its a day to remember the fallen of all wars and those who died due to violence of a government. The date of it was also changed to the one it has today, two sundays before advent.
(I can’t think of a better word for it but celebration sounds wrong in that context. Some help please?)
The Volkstrauertag is offically celebrated in the Bundestag. They tradionally play the national anthem there and the song “Der gute kamerad” (The good comrade) also known as “Ich hatte einen Kameraden” (I once had a comrade) and some other songs and of course people are holding speeches.
A lot of citys , towns , organisations… are doing Volkstrauertag today. I actually went to the celebration of it in my town. Half of it is singing and the other half are speeches and a minut of silence. There weren’t a lot of people and I personally think it’s normal that only a few are still celebrating that day.
I had doubts about wearing my dirndl in America because even though I grew up in Germany where a lot of people still wear dirndls to festivals and stuff, I know how sexualized my cultural dress has become in America (and how just plain ignorant people can be). This is messed up guys. Just think about it–if I wore a Sari (traditional Indian dress), no one would give a care. I’ve seen men wearing kilts without a care and women wearing kimonos for special occasions. They’re accepted and respected here. But I show up in my dirndl and these are just a few of the reactions I’ve gotten:
“Wow, showing some cleavage?"
"Are you dressed as some kind of bar wench?"
"You’re being embarrassing.”
“I like your medieval costume."
"Hey look it’s Snow White!"
That’s because the American vision of a dirndl is this:
We even had a similar version stuck to the door of my German classroom in American high school, perpetuating the ignorance. This stuff is why when I say, "I’m going to wear my traditional German dress for halloween,” this is what they picture.
So let’s raise some awareness folks. THIS is a traditional german dress. A dirndl.
And it might look old fashioned and a bit sexy, but that’s not an excuse to call me ‘wench.'
Someday I want to be able to wear my dirndl in America without embarrassing my friends.
Tbh I have to laugh everytime people try to tell me because I’m white I of course have no idea about cultural appropriation.
Did you know there’s a “traditional German restaurant” in Japan run by non-Germans? Do you know how many “traditional German restaurants” and how much “traditional German food” are in the USA, run and made by non-Germans?
Have you ever been in Europe around the time of Oktoberfest? Or even the USA? How many non-Germans wear our traditional garment at that time, running around making fun of the stereotype of the German as a fat, Lederhosen wearing beer drinker? Btw, it’s a LOT.
Do you know how often us Germans are a punchline in comedies? As the Nazi, (again) the fat, Lederhosen wearing beer drinker? Or how people make fun of our language because apparently we sound so aggressive, which shows most people haven’t heard our language besides listening to a speech of Adolf Hitler?
Non-Germans see us mostly in stereotypes. Funnily, most of these stereotypes are from one specific state in Germany, Bavaria. We’re either Hitler worshippers or alcoholics. Can’t count how often I was asked on the Internet if we still wear Swastikas here or to say something in German just to prove how “aggressive” we sound. We’re making fun of all the time.
Does that make me angry? Sometimes. Do I care enough to freak out about it? Do other people in Germany care enough to freak out about it? No. Because we know most people only know Germany through media and we have a certain image. Hell, we’re making money out of it.
I am glad our image shifts thanks to the internet. But hey, people are INTERESTED in my culture and my country. And if they ask me dumb questions, I educate them calmly and friendly because that’s how we are. Because I know calling them racists, xenophobics and whatever buzzword you can think of won’t help or change their minds. Why be an asshole about something people don’t know much about?
Planning a trip to Germany soon? We are sure you have done some research on where to go and what to eat. Now that you know where you’re going and how you’re getting there– time to confront the vague subject of cultural norms. Just like in the United States, Germany has its own quarks and standards that take some time to get used to. Look like a local by following some basic cultural norms such as avoiding the bike lane or arriving on time. Bon voyage!
When it’s your birthday in ‘Schland and you realize you have to make your own cake to bring to work
But… it’s my own bday…
Birthday Cake etiquette is quite different in Germany vs. US/UK/IE.
In Germany, it’s on you to bring in the cake to the office, or to provide the majority of alcohol at your party; I’ve even been to birthday dinners where the birthday kid paid for the whole tab.
In US/UK/IE, it’s on (nice) colleagues to bring in a cake for you, and in the case of a birthday dinner, the bill for the birthday person’s dinner is usually split between the other guests there, so little to no expense falls upon the birthday person.
Interestingly, both of these approaches to birthday fanfare have to do with views of egos–in Germany, the thinking is “It’s my birthday, and I am asking people to go out of their routine because of me, therefore it is polite and on me to make a cake or provide beer or pay for this dinner. Expecting someone else to do it would be egotistical.”
In the US, on the other hand, bringing in your own cake would seem, paradoxically, somewhat narcissistic (
la “It is my birthday and now you must celebrate it.”) The thinking is that it is your day, and your friends/family should be treating you extra special–if you come in announcing with cakes etc it is your birthday, it is like you are forcibly reminding everyone that they must treat you extra special that day, whether they planned to or not.
HAVING SAID THAT, everyone loves cake. So whether it’s your birthday or your friend’s birthday or no one’s birthday at all…
Quirks About Germans Americans Still Can’t Get Over
If you live in a country long enough, which many American exchange students do, you start to become desensitized to what once struck you as odd. You no longer stand in awe of the number of toilet buttons or scoff at people waiting for walking signals when no cars are coming. Some things, however, just never become familiar. We asked former American exchange students to Germany what cultural quirks still give them pause.
Wearing clothes more than once
Generally speaking, Americans grow up somewhat fussy about germs and dirt. We carry around hand sanitizer. We carefully wash all of produce. We also throw into the laundry clothes we’ve worn for only one day. In Germany, unless you worked out in them or spilled something on them, there is no shame or stigma attached to wearing clothes again–even multiple days in a row.
Greeting people with “Mahlzeit!”
Can you imagine walking past someone at work in America and greeting them with, “Lunch!” But in Germany, this is a common way to greet coworkers during the mid-day hours.
How they count on their fingers
If you’ve seen the movie Inglorious Bastards, you are already on the up-and-up on German counting behaviors. Americans show numbers with their palm faced away from them and start with their pointer finger. Germans count with their palm faced towards them and start with their thumb.
Tugging of the eye
In America, sarcasm is best served subtly. Since sarcasm is a bit of a national pastime and is brought to artistic levels in some circles, it can make it tricky to know when an American is joking. In Germany, sarcasm is presented visually, by pulling at the bottom of an eyelid to indicate that everything you say after that is meant in jest.
Fake names on social media
Met a cool German and want to connect with them on social media? Well, GOOD LUCK. Germans tend to be more concerned about their privacy and often change their names on social media to something completely unrelated to their actual name.
Buying your own birthday cake
Nothing knocks the wind out of an American’s sails like being expected to bring their own cake to their birthday party.
English is “german-o-fied”
When Americans travel to Germany, they often expect to be fully immersed in the German language. This is not exactly the case. The German language is speckled with English words like googeln and tweeten and American music is played on the radio or at events. Dipping in and out of one’s mother tongue can make it difficult to learn a new language.
Enthusiasm for carbonated beverages
Bubbles! Bubbles everywhere and in everything! Oh, it doesn’t have bubbles? Well let’s mix that juice with some carbonated water.
Shoes just for the house
House shoes, or slippers, are like normal shoes but softer and comfier. They’re like something in between socks and shoes.
You finally escaped the whipping wind and cold outside. It’s snowing and you look out the window and express your gratitude that you aren’t out there anymore. Then, across the room, someone complains about stale air and requests some frische Luft and OPENS THE WINDOW IN WINTER. Now the air is “fresh” but you are freezing. Who is winning here?
What is going on with your beds?
Arguably the most efficient set-up for bed-making: The pillow takes up like half of the bed and there is just one thick sheet that has it’s own case.