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If you do not speak German, be careful of automatically addressing a person in English.

While
Germans generally speak very good English, some may well feel offended at the presumption.
There is some noticeable reluctance among especially the 55 and above age group, which
generally doesn't feel as secure in the language as the next younger generations, which have
grown up with a prevalence of English introduced into many aspects of German commercial
life

If many people are being toasted, make eye contact with each individual around the table as
you make the toast. This rule becomes even more important to remember as you move west
to east through Germany.

If you do not want any more food or drink, say so politely. Germans will not ask again, as they
expect you to express your personal wishes. They will also not take it as impolite or an insult if
you say no.

If you are invited to a German's house, bring a gift such as fine chocolates, a bottle of wine or
flowers.
German Culture: Facts, Customs and Traditions
Germany is at the center of Europe, not only geographically, but also in terms of
politics and economics. The country is Europe's second most populous after
Russia, with more than 81 million people, according to the World Factbook. The
German economy is the largest on the continent and the fifth largest in the
world.

While German exerts its influence on the countries that border it Austria,
Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands,
Switzerland and Poland all of these cultures have, in varying degrees, had a
hand in shaping todays Germany.

The population is 91.5 percent German, with Turkish being the second largest
ethnic group at 2.4 percent, according to the World Factbook. The remaining 6.1
percent is made up primarily of those of Greek, Russian, Italian, Polish, Serbo-
Croatian and Spanish descent.
Values
Germans place a high priority on structure, privacy and punctuality. The
German people embrace the values of thriftiness, hard work and
industriousness and there is great emphasis on making sure that "the trains run
on time." According to Passport to Trade 2.0, an online business etiquette guide
by the University of Salford in Manchester, England, "Germans are most
comfortable when they can organize and compartmentalize their world into
controllable units. Time, therefore, is managed carefully, and calendars,
schedules and agendas must be respected."

Germans are stoic people who strive for perfectionism and precision in all
aspects of their lives. They do not admit faults, even jokingly, and rarely hand
out compliments. At first their attitude may seem unfriendly, but there is a keen
sense of community and social conscience and a desire to belong.

Languages
Unsurprisingly, the official language of the country is German. More than 95
percent of the population speaks German as their first language, according to
Angelo State University's Center for International Studies. Other languages
spoken include Serbian in eastern Germany; North and West Frisian, spoken
around the Rhine estuary; and Danish, primarily spoken in the area along the
Danish border. Romani, which is an indigenous language, Turkish and Kurdish
are also spoken.

Religion
Christianity is the dominant religion, with 65 to 70 percent of the population
identifying themselves as Christian. That number includes 24 million Catholics,
according to CBS News. Muslims make up 3.7 percent of the population,
according to Angelo State University, while 28.3 percent are unaffiliated or have
a religion other than Christianity or Islam.
German food and drink
Germans love rich, hearty cuisine, though each area of Germany has its own
definition of what a traditional meal looks like.

Pork is the most consumed meat, according to the German Food Guide.
Schweinshaxe (braised pork hock) and Saumagen (pork stomach) are a couple
of traditional pork dishes.

Bratwurst, a form of sausage, is closely associated with German food.


Cabbage, beets, and turnips are commonly incorporated into meals, as they are
native to the region, and potatoes and sauerkraut are also stars of German
cuisine.

Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage, and the country is known as the
birthplace of a number of beer varieties, including Pilsner, Weizenbier (wheat
beer) and Alt. These beers were crafted according to Reinheitsgebot, or the
"Purity Law," a 16th-century Bavarian law that decreed that beer could only be
brewed from barley, hops and water, according to NPR. Brewers used the yeast
available in the air. Brandy and schnapps are also favorite German alcoholic
beverages.

The Arts
Culture doesn't just refer to how people interact and look. "Culture also means
refined intellectual, artistic and creative achievement, for example as in cultural
knowledge, or a cultured person," Cristina De Rossi, an anthropologist at Barnet
and Southgate College in London, told Live Science.

Germans have made tremendous contributions to classical music, and the


traditions of famous German or Austrian composers such as Johann Sebastian
Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig von Beethoven, Johannes Brahms,
Richard Wagner and Gustav Mahler live on today.

With their penchant for precision and engineering, it is not surprising that
Germans have a strong tradition of printmaking by woodcut and engraving.
There is also a strong representation of all phases of architecture including
Romanesque, Gothic, Classicist, Baroque, Rococo and Renaissance
represented in cathedrals, castles and public buildings. One well-known
example of classic German art is the Brandenburg Gate, a former city gate that is
now used to symbolize Berlin's unity.
Business culture
The desire for orderliness spills over into the business life of Germans.
Surprises and humor are not welcomed. Everything is carefully planned out and
decided upon, with changes rarely occurring after an agreement is made,
according to the German Business Culture Guide.

There is a high regard for engineers in German, as evidenced by the countrys


success in the automotive industry. Because of this high level of respect for
hands-on expertise, companies tend to be headed by technical experts rather
than lawyers or those with a financial background.

Workers at all levels are judged heavily on their competence and diligence,
rather than interpersonal skills. Communication with co-workers as well as
outsiders tends to be direct and not always diplomatic.

Holidays and celebrations


Germany celebrates many of the traditional Christian holidays, including
Christmas and Easter. German Unification Day on October 3 marks the
reuniting of East and West Germany and is the only federal holiday.

While the countrys big beer bash is called "Oktoberfest," its starts each year on
a Saturday in September and ends 16 to 18 days later, on the first Sunday in
October. The tradition started in 1810, with the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig
of Bavaria to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen, according to
the city of Munich.
Additional reporting by Alina Bradford, Live Science Contributor