10 very German passions



It's a cliché, so might as well get it out of the way: Only the Czechs drink more beer on average than the Germans. It's not that every German likes beer, but it's just so socially established. An older woman drinking a pint at noon will not be seen as an alcoholic. And any German beer fan knows extremely creative methods to open a beer bottle without an opener.



The binder is a German invention, and this might help explain why Germans are so fond of keeping their records. Yet even the most chaotic person will quickly find out that keeping any official document is a necessity in Germany. You actually need them more often than you'd think. Despite digitalization, German bureaucracy also remains surprisingly reliant on good-old paper forms — stacks of them.



It's a country where discounter stores often serve as supermarkets for all classes of society. People who are always searching for the best deals are called "Schnäppchenjäger," or bargain hunters. The mentality is ingrained in many Germans, allowing this advertisement slogan, "Geiz ist geil!" — being stingy is sexy — to become part of pop culture.



If you're to meet any other tourists in a remote area of, say, the Middle East, they could well be middle-aged Germans in high-tech hiking gear. Passionate travelers, Germans are everywhere. Many prefer to stick to established habits, though. A favorite is the Spanish island of Mallorca, nicknamed "Malle." "Ballermann 6" (pictured) is a particularly famous bar known for its excesses.


Schrebergärten - garden colonies

The Germans who prefer to stay in the city throughout the summer might be doing so because they have a garden in one of the country's 1.4 million "Schrebergärten," which are colonies divided into plots with a little shack. There, they can work on their flowerbeds, barbecue or line up garden gnomes. Germany, however, strictly regulates these allotments, and each colony also has its own rules.



The German nudist movement was the first worldwide, developing at the end of 19th century through clubs promoting "Freikörperkultur," or FKK, which translates as Free Body Culture. It became especially widespread in former East Germany, and not only in nudist camps. To this day, you shouldn't be surprised to see naked people in parks or around lakes in the eastern part of Germany.


Road rules

As an adult, you may feel you can take your own risk and cross on a red light when there aren't any cars. However, in Germany, you shouldn't be surprised if you hear someone yelling at you: "It's RED!" Often, cyclists, pedestrians and car drivers all feel the need to "educate" their fellow road users.



There's no exact translation for this German tradition: "Stammtisch" initially referred to a table reserved for regular clients in a pub, where they'd often play a card game called skat or discuss politics. The discussions weren't always elaborate, though, leading to the expression "Stammtischniveau" (Stammstisch level). Now, Stammtisch is also a regular meet-up organized by any imaginable group.



Most Sunday evenings, nearly 10 million Germans tune in to the TV series "Tatort" (Crime Scene), which has been continuously running since 1970. Regional public broadcasters take turns producing episodes, so investigations are set in a different city each time. As it's more fun to watch with other people, many pubs organize screenings. Tweeting during the show is another popular option.


Cake every day

The "Kaffee und Kuchen" (coffee and cake) tradition allows Germans to eat cake any afternoon, like British teatime - although most people now indulge in this treat on weekends only. You're also expected to show up with a cake for your colleagues on your birthday. Children sometimes start theirs with cake for breakfast, then bring one to school and get a third one for their party with friends.

Admittedly, not all Germans are deeply enthusiastic about these cultural habits — but you shouldn't be surprised if you meet one who is.

Is there really such a thing as passions that are shared by the entire population of a country? Obviously not, which is why lists claiming to enumerate them are usually based on stereotypes rather than on any scientific analysis.

Still, even if not all Germans are obsessed with the TV show "Tatort," garden plots, "Stammtisch" meet-ups and beer, these customs are deeply established in the country's culture and you're bound to encounter them one day or another if you visit or live in Germany.

Click through the gallery above to discover 10 "hobbies" many Germans are enthusiastic about — and add football if you're looking for an 11th one.  

Explore the gallery below for 10 things you'll find in (almost) every German household. And for more about German culture, language and lifestyle, visit dw.com/meetthegermans. 


Breakfast egg shenanigans

A proper German breakfast includes a perfectly soft-boiled egg. And to hold those eggs, most German households have a variety of egg cups, some even coming with their own spoon and miniature salt shaker. There's even a specially designed egg-cracking device, known as an "Eierschalensollbruchstellenverursacher," or "eggshell breaking point causer," something that could only be invented in Germany.


Bottles to recycle

Germans take recycling seriously, especially when it comes to "Pfandflaschen," or deposit bottles. These glass and plastic bottles are collected at home and then lugged in heavy bags back to the supermarket where they can be returned for cash. They're not worth much - usually only 8 or 25 cents - but everyone does it anyways. After all, they take up a lot of space at home.


Kitchen towels for everything

Admittedly, Germany isn't the only country with kitchen towels. But you'll find an amazing collection of them in most households. A typical German kitchen is filled with towels - hanging over a chair or drying on the radiator. Although newer models can feature unusual designs, checked patterns have ruled for decades. And they are more economical and ecological than paper towels.


An array of cleaning products

If you spill something inside a German household, you're in luck. Many Germans are equipped with a cabinet full of cleaning supplies for literally every surface in their homes. There are cleaning products for glass, tile, ceramic, wood, faux wood, metal and even a cleaner specifically designed for electric stove tops. Happy scrubbing!


Toilet brush

Although this object, the "Klobürste," is also typically available in most countries, somehow it seems far more prominent in Germany. Germans often have to "educate" foreigners on the fact that it's not just reserved for weekly cleaning chores. Because of the particular shape of many German toilet bowls, those brown stains won't just "flush away" on their own, so everyone has to do their part.


Wall full of books

Germans aren't very big on showing off, except when it comes to their books. Inside nearly every German home you'll find a shelf - often reaching from floor to ceiling - filled with books, whether classics written by German philosophers or coffee table books on the latest architectural trends. A visitor will never know how many of them their owner has actually read - but at least they can be seen.


Army of binders

Even with so many books, Germans still find extra shelf space for their most prized possessions: documents. Germans love their documents - certificates, tax returns (10 years' worth, no joke), contracts, bank statements, insurance papers. They all need to be properly sorted, filed and stored. So you'll often find an army of specially designed binders lining the walls of German homes.


Proper shutters

Germans' penchant for privacy is well known and you can see it best by looking at (but not through) their front windows. Many households have metal window coverings called "Rollladen" (no, the three L's are not a typo) that roll down to completely cover the window and block out the outside world. They do a great job of shielding your home from the pesky early morning sun - and that nosy neighbor.


House shoes

In many countries, people take off their shoes when they enter a house. Still, many foreigners are impressed by how systematically Germans slip into more comfortable footwear as soon as they arrive home or get out of bed. And in most cases, they're so much more than just slippers - they're proper "Hausschuhe," or house shoes.


Individual blankets on a double bed

German beds prioritize practicality over romance, especially when it comes to blankets: Couples sleep with two blankets on a double bed. Why share one when each person sleeping in the bed can have their own? Of course, you won't find this setup in a single person's home - but bachelors shouldn't laugh, as they might get there one day.

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