We’ve uncovered yet another excellent list of surprising things you need to know about Germany before you begin your journey.
Table of Contents
- Understanding German Culture
- Surprising Things to Know About German Culture
- #1: German vowels always have the same sound as their English counterparts.
- #2: Not many things in German culture are American-inspired
- #3: There is way more to experience in Germany than just Berlin and Munich
- #4: Germans use Celsius instead of Fahrenheit to measure things
- #5: The beer Pilsner has been around since 1842
- #6: “Apfelstrudel” is apple pie in German and “Weizenbier” is wheat beer in German
- #7: The country of Germany is not the only thing called “Deutschland”‘
- #8: The German flag contains only two colors
- #9: There is a town called “Germania” in Brazil
- #10: The German language does not use capital letters. This might be surprising to many of you who do not speak German
Understanding German Culture
Some things you didn’t know about Germany:
- The German language is closely related to English.
- There are more than 1,000 different kinds of beer in Germany.
- Germany has four seasons like other countries. They just seem to be less extreme because they’re farther north and the ground is flatter than most places in Europe.
- Berlin was a divided city from 1961 until 1989 when communism fell across Eastern Europe. It took almost twenty years for it to become reunified, but today Berliners enjoy living in one of the world’s great cities with its rich cultural heritage, diverse population and lively nightlife scene!
For more things you didn’t know about Germany, continue reading through this article.
Germany is the most influential country in the EU and has one of the largest economies in Europe, second only to that of France. The German economy is an export-orientated one and relies heavily on its reputation for quality engineering products produced by companies like Siemens, Mercedes Benz, Audi and BMW.
Europe’s leading experts on things German agree that the key to understanding Germany as a country is its history. A haunting past – namely Nazi Germany’s less than glorious twelve-year reign between 1933 and 1945 – has left its mark on German culture forever.
Surprising Things to Know About German Culture
#1: German vowels always have the same sound as their English counterparts.
German vowels always have the same sound like their English counterparts.
German’s vowel sounds are very similar to American English: a is pronounced like “ah” in father; ei, like “ay” in say; and ou, like “ow” in cow. German also has the same five diphthongs found in English: au (pronounced similarly to ow); äu (similar to eh-oo); ei (as above); ie (as ih-ee), and ue (eh-ue). Lastly, German has two more vowels that do not appear at all in American English: ö and ü.
#2: Not many things in German culture are American-inspired
Many things in German culture – from language to food to architecture – are influenced by other countries. But there is one thing that Germans do not seem to have been heavily influenced by: America.
In fact, some things about the American lifestyle may even strike German visitors as a bit odd or repulsive. In general, “American” things are met with bemusement and amusement among Germans; they’re seen as something exotic but not necessarily desirable.
The exception might be McDonald’s and Coca-Cola which both seem to enjoy massive popularity across Germany despite their association with the US (and its reputation for unhealthy eating).
And yet, while these two brands may be ubiquitous in Germany, it’s worth remembering that they don’t really represent anything quintessential.
See Related: Driving in Germany
#3: There is way more to experience in Germany than just Berlin and Munich
So you want to go to Germany and experience the culture? Well, there is way more things to do than just visiting Berlin and Munich.
Berlin has a huge array of things to offer for tourists such as museums and galleries all over the city. This makes it an ideal place for people who enjoy learning about art or history.
It also offers many different architectural styles which range from old buildings that are hundreds of years old, like the Brandenburg Gate, to modern structures like Sony Center with its sky bridge connecting two skyscrapers at Potsdamer Platz. With so much variety in architecture alone, it’s no wonder Berlin was chosen as one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1999!
Munich on the other hand is known as the capital of beer. Beer festivals are held all over Munich during the months of September and October and it seems like everyone is in a good mood! The tradition of Oktoberfest started way back in 1810 as a wedding celebration for Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese so you can imagine that things get pretty lively on the streets!
So when you come to Germany, don’t make the mistake of only visiting Berlin or Munich and saving other things for a later trip. Experience more than just beer halls and museums in these two cities because this is really all they can offer.
Take advantage of how close Germany is from different European countries by going on day trips, or even weekend trips, to other cities.
#4: Germans use Celsius instead of Fahrenheit to measure things
Germany uses Celsius instead of Fahrenheit to measure things. While the United States uses Fahrenheit to measure things, Germany uses Celsius. Do you know what things are measured in Celsius? Things like water, food and hot things.
#5: The beer Pilsner has been around since 1842
Beer has been around for a long time. But Pilsner, the German beer that is now world-famous, has only been around for 160 years. In 1842, Josef Groll brewed up the first batch of this pale lager at his brewery in Plzen (Pils) in what was then Bohemia and is now part of the Czech Republic.
It’s not known exactly why he chose to brew a pilsner – many people think it was because its fresh flavor made it an ideal thirst quencher on hot summer days. It could also have been that Groll wanted to produce a type of beer with all four ingredients coming from Bohemian soil: hops from Zatec, barley from Usti, and water from the Vltava River.
As things turned out, Pilsner quickly took over as the number one beer in all of Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) and then began to spread all across Europe and later around the world.
The first bottles of this fresh golden beer were produced in 1875.
#6: “Apfelstrudel” is apple pie in German and “Weizenbier” is wheat beer in German
“Apfelstrudel” is apple pie in German and “Weizenbier” is wheat beer in German. But there are things you need to know about these things!
For example, did you know that “Apfelstrudel” means “apple spiced strudel”? And that it’s made with a sweet dough and filled with apples, cinnamon sugar, butter or oil, raisins (or even chocolate), lemon zest, and sometimes almonds?
Or that “Weizenbier,” which literally translates to “wheat beer,” has been brewed since the 1500s? In fact, we’re pretty sure this was the first type of beer ever invented. It’s also often called Hefeweizen, which means “yeast wheat” because it’s a cloudy beer that is made with at least 50% malted wheat.
Das Geheimnis: The German words “Apfel” and “Weizen” are both plural forms of the word “apfel,” meaning apple in German! This leads to things like this: “das Apfelkorn” (apple core = the things you throw away when eating an apple!) and “die Weizenkeime” (wheat seeds). Therefore, it’s no surprise that there are different types of these things.
#7: The country of Germany is not the only thing called “Deutschland”‘
The word “deutsch” doesn’t actually mean “Germany;” it also refers to things that are related to the German language. So things with German origins, including things like German wine and German chocolate are all things that use the word “deutsch” to describe them.
#8: The German flag contains only two colors
The German flag is a tricolor of three equal horizontal bands displaying the national colors of Germany; black, red, and gold. The first band (top) is black; the second band is red, and the third band (bottom) is gold.
The flag’s proportions are set at 1:2. In terms of protocol, when flying or on display, these bands should be arranged in reverse order to distinguish them from their ersatz use as an adornment on vehicles.
The German flag has been used since 1848 when it was established by law that only this design would be allowed to represent Germany. Originally there were no rules for how many color fields were required but since 1998 a legal specification defines each field must be at least 150cm x 150cm in size.
The colors black, red and gold have been used to represent Germany and the German people since the Napoleonic Wars in 1813-1815; they were also incorporated into the flag of the German Empire (1871-1918). The current flag was officially adopted by law on December 1, 1957.
The colors black, red and gold were chosen to represent the German people because they didn’t have any personal value or historical connection to a certain ruler. The Germans in 1848 wanted a new start as a nation on their own sovereignty without connections to other countries so that’s why red was excluded from the flag. Red is historically the color of the cities and burghers (Nuremberg, Lübeck, Frankfurt etc.), as well as the Hanseatic League. Black was associated with ‘the old Germany’ – especially Prussia – which could be seen as a kind of “superior” or “elder brother” to other German states.
It is not known exactly why the colors gold and black were chosen. It is assumed that Emperor Wilhelm I chose these colors himself, also because he liked them very much. Gold and black are considered as a combination of the German national colors red-white and black-red (the flag of Prussia).
The first time the tricolor was used in 1848 by German students in Heidelberg. They used the flag to show their sympathy for the French and proclaimed that they were fighting not only for liberty, but also for fraternity (brotherhood) as one of the three French colors was blue; also because blood is red and blue together symbolizes royalism which implies aristocratic values.
#9: There is a town called “Germania” in Brazil
There is a town called Germania in Brazil. It’s not the only place with this name, but it is one of the few towns with such an unusual name that you can’t help but wonder why they named it that.
Germania has some things in common with its European namesake: both are surrounded by mountains and forests, and both have been inhabited for at least 2,000 years. But there are also things that make Germania unique- things about which most people don’t know anything at all. For example…
Now you know something new! And so will everyone who reads this article!
#10: The German language does not use capital letters. This might be surprising to many of you who do not speak German
You might be surprised to find out that the German language does not use capital letters. This will seem strange to many of you who do not speak German but it is true. The reason for this is because, in the German alphabet, all nouns are written with an initial capital letter and then have no other capitals throughout the rest of the word.
For example, a person’s name would be spelled as “Maria,” which would look like this: “M-a-r-i-a.” This is very different from English where things like company names or words such as “apple” or “orange” have lowercase letters since they describe things instead of proper nouns.
In this video, Mark explains 10 “shocking” truths about Germany that you may not know, but need to know!
As you can see from this list, there are many things about Germany that people don’t know. Whether it’s the food they eat or a German tradition, these things may be interesting to your readers and could even inspire them to visit Berlin!
Let us know if we were able to share any facts with you that surprised you or made you want more information on Germany. We’re happy to help answer any questions in our articles or blog posts.