A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people. ―Mahatma Gandhi
Germany is known for many things, from delicious cuisines to thought provoking literature. German culture, thus, gives us a glimpse of the various sides of this glorious land. What are the most interesting factors that draw people towards Germany? Well, the German culture reveals it all.
Language and Literature
The German language is one of the 3 working languages of the European Union, the other two being English and French. Minority languages in Germany are Danish, Sorbian, and Frisian. The German language uses the Latin alphabet, but has 4 more vowels―ä, ö, ü, and ß. Around the globe, there are around 100 million native German speakers.
It goes without saying that Germany is known as the land of poets and thinkers. The works of many famous authors and poets from this nation have touched the hearts of millions of readers. In the earlier days, these works were primarily written in the German language. The 'Hildebrandslied' is one of the most famous and prominent works during the Old High German period. Around 12 authors of the language have been awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature. Today, the thought process and the kind of content generated has undergone a change. Contemporary German literature shows a kaleidoscope of the creative geniuses of German authors and poets.
During the olden days, there were many types of clothing gear that were characteristic of Germany. Traditional German clothing was all about layers and dresses for women. The dirndl remains to be an important traditional dress, which consists of many garments. In modern times, the dirndl is worn for traditional events.
The lederhosen is also an important traditional attire in this part of the world. It is the German word for leather pants, and are actually knee braces. Some variants have suspenders and fronts flaps, and look best when worn with a white shirt, stockings, country shoes, a jacket, and a hat. Apart from these garments, the gamsbart and tracht also form an integral part of traditional wear in this region.
In Germany, the constitution states that no person should ever be discriminated on the basis of religion. Christianity is the major religion followed in this country. The Christians include Roman Catholics (concentrated more in the southern and western regions), as well as Protestants (concentrated more in the northern and eastern regions).
Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism, are some of the other religions that are followed in decent numbers in Germany.
Pope Benedict XVI from Germany held the papacy from 19 April 2005 to 28 February 2013.
Germany is known for its varied styles of cuisine. This is because, their cuisine is prepared differently from region to region. Meat is the main ingredient in most of the dishes. Beef, pork, and poultry are very popular meal options all around the nation. The meat is more often than not eaten in sausage form. Besides these, Germany has adopted food from other parts of the world, more so Italian, Mediterranean, Arab, Greek, Indian, Chinese, and Japanese cuisine.
The national drink of Germany is beer. Germany is one of the highest (per person) beer consumption countries in the world. Although, Germans also love their fruit juices, soft drinks, and carbonated mineral water.
The Germans also have a sweet tooth, and this is evident from the vast variety of desserts that can be gorged out here. Rye bread is yet another specialty of the region.
Music and Dance
From classical music to the modern forms of today, German music includes many variations. Germany has contributed in a large way to the world of music. Composers such as Beethoven and Mozart propelled Germany on the international map in the musical world. In present times, Germany is the 3rd largest market for music in the whole world. Genres such as techno, rock, and trance are very popular here. Bands like Scorpions and Modern Talking ruled the charts in the '80s and '90s. The Rock am Ring festival is one of the biggest music festivals in the world.
Apart from music-loving individuals, dance also remains deeply rooted in the culture. In the 18th century, the ballroom dance of waltz developed from many regional forms of dances in southern Germany. This dance form caught on fast all over Europe, and then across the world. Ballet has always been a popular dance with all opera houses. Ausdruckstanz, or expressionistic dance, which is modern dance form has also become popular all over the country since the '70s. Performing arts is at its peak in Germany. There are many regions in Germany known for their typical style of music and folk dance.
German cinema has made many valuable contributions to the world. Cinema developed due to the increasing demand from the public, who otherwise relied on films from Italy. The film industry in Germany progressed immediately after World War I. One could see the use of symbolism in the films. Directors like Fritz Lang was a big influence in Hollywood on the 1920s. The Babelsberg Film Studio is the oldest full-scale organized film studio in the world.
Then followed the Expressionist Movement. However, this also changed later on, although the concepts continued to influence movies around the world. In recent times, 'Run Lola Run' has managed to bring attention back towards German cinema. Over the years, more so in the current century, many movies like Good Bye Lenin! and Der Untergang have enjoyed immense international success.
Art and Architecture
Germany witnessed some of the finest artists during the Renaissance period. One can particularly note that German artists drew a lot of inspiration from Italian artists of that period. Their styles thus gave birth to the German Renaissance. During the olden days, there were many styles followed by artists. Today, there are over 5,000 art galleries that display many interesting works of art. Art lovers from all over the world throng to these places to appreciate the beauty of these works. The artistic forms are not limited to the canvas or sculptures. A few well-known Renaissance painters were Matthias Grünewald, Albrecht Altdorfer, Anselm Kiefer, and Albrecht Dürer.
The architecture of Germany has a particular look about its structure, mainly the Carolingian and Ottonian styles. Berlin is the place to go to, to know more about different international structures. Modern German architecture is all about technology merged with finer design elements. However, the story was different in the ancient days. Wood, being easily available, the homes in ancient Germany were primarily made of this material. While under the influence of the Roman Empire, the buildings looked similar to the Roman buildings. The Electoral Palace is a fine example of the Rococo style of architecture. There are many such important landmarks in Germany that indicate the fine architectural designs implemented in the olden days.
For the Germans, sports has always been an important part of their lives. Take the fact that, Germany has won the third-highest number of medals in all Olympic Games put together. In the Winter Olympics too, they are always right up there. They have hosted the Summer Olympics twice and the Winter Olympics once. The infrastructure for sports is world class all over the country.
Football (soccer) is the national sport of Germany, and by far the most popular sport too. They have won 3 World Cups till date, and have been losing finalists on 4 occasions. Other sports that the Germans are one of the best in the world at, are handball, motorsport, cycling, ice hockey, field hockey, boxing, golf, basketball, rugby, and a host of Olympic and track and field events.
Science and Technology
Research and development is a true German trait, and the country has been a pioneer in this aspect. For ages, Germans has excelled in fields like physics, mathematics, chemistry, medicine, engineering, physiology, etc. Serious research related to science goes as far back as in the Scientific Revolution of the mid 1500s.
The country has produced world-renowned scientists like Albert Einstein, Max Planck, Hermann von Helmholtz, Joseph von Fraunhofer, Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, Deutsche Telekom, Otto Hahn, and Wilhelm Wundt, to name a few.
The class and strength of German technology can be seen through some of their brands like BMW, Audi, Volkswagen, Bosch, Adidas, Puma, Opel, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Siemens, Allianz, Nivea, etc.
Germany is one of the most advanced and modernized countries in the world. Its modernization process has outpaced most countries around the world. Infrastructure is of the highest standard, and also the standard of living is relatively high, even if compared to other developed countries in Europe.
Modern-day German society is very tolerant towards many issues that are a problem in other countries around the world. Gender equality and disability rights are something that they take pretty seriously. Since the 1990s, Germany is seen as a favored destination for legal immigration.
German society is well-known as a modern and open-minded one. People have enough freedom to shape their lives in a way they feel fit. In terms of population, it is the largest in the European Union. As a society, one can call it diverse. Germans also love to travel. In fact, Germans spend more money on travel than any other country in the world.
Oktoberfest is the largest fair in the world, and is held every year in Munich. It started in 1810, when Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810, and has been going on as a yearly festivity ever since. It spans 16 - 18 days, depending on the dates that it falls on, and takes place from late September to early October. As per records, on an average, around 6 million people from within Germany and around the world visit this fair every year. Many other cities around the world too hold an Oktoberfest, which replicates the original one held in Munich.
Only beer which has approximately 6% alcohol by volume and has been brewed within the city limits of Munich can be served at Oktoberfest. As such, the breweries that qualify are Augustiner-Bräu, Hacker-Pschorr-Bräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, Spatenbräu, and Staatliches Hofbräu-München.
German culture today is the perfect mix of the modern world and the country's important traditions. These interesting facts about Germany and its culture give one an indication about the magnificence of this land. A fairly secure country, there are many more things one can learn about which will help absorb the deeply rooted cultures and traditions. A visit to this magnificent place will give one a better feel about the land.