The characteristics and peculiarities of Germans mentioned here apply to many Germans, but not to all. The characteristics are just stereotypes, which sometimes contain more and sometimes less truth. So please do not take the text too seriously.
Germans have values: typically German
- Germans follow rules, regardless of whether they understand them or how nonsensical they find them.
- Germans think that stinginess is cool.
- Germans like to play it safe.
- Germans are considered neat, disciplined and punctual. They are considered detail-oriented and accurate.
- Germans are considered organized, hardworking, efficient, impatient and meticulous.
- Germans do not enjoy small talk.
- Germans love their pets! According to Statista, around 34 million (i.e. almost every second household owns a pet!) lived in German households in 2019, of which cats made up the largest number (14.7 million). On average, Germans spend 9.1 billion euros per year on their pets. (As musician Peter Fox once said, „Everybody’s got a dog, but nobody to talk to.“)
- Germans like to watch soccer and love sports. Soccer is a substitute religion in Germany.
- Germans are friendly.
- Germans are not spontaneous. Spontaneous visits are rather undesirable. They plan everything, sometimes weeks and months in advance. They plan visits from parents and friends. They plan doctor visits and official visits. They plan vacations.
- Germans take pride in their electronics, kitchen, and home improvement. People who visit Germans may admire the new coffee maker, marvel at the new kitchen, or walk on the patio (or balcony) they tiled themselves.
- Germans can’t take a joke. They are partly humorless.
- Germans are often „about principle“ in discussions.
- Germany loves signs. For everything. Safety first!
- The German pays his taxes diligently. Whether income tax, land transfer tax, value added tax, property tax, dog tax, capital gains tax, …
- In Germany there are insurances for everything. (Anything can happen).
- In Germany there are many rules and many who make sure that rules are followed.
- In Germany, bureaucracy and rules are above everything. For almost everything there is an application or a form. For very much you need a permit. (Because there is no form for the revolution, it is left out).
- It has to be quiet at night, otherwise the police are called.
- When Germans say they will meet at 3:03, they meet at 3:03.
Typical German peculiarities, stereotypes and characteristics: A to D
- Older Germans prefer to eat sausage for breakfast when on vacation abroad.
- The elderly are put in homes and not cared for by their families.
- On Christmas Eve, many families have potato salad with Wiener for supper.
- Highways without speed limits are a German cultural asset known worldwide. Any attempt to hold a discussion about a possible speed limit is doomed to failure. Because Germans see their freedom (to speed) threatened here.
- If Germans greet each other with a handshake, the handshake says a lot about the person. A firm handshake is considered desirable and self-confident. A lax handshake is considered weak.
When it comes to restaurant or pub bills, things get complicated for some Germans. For some, the cent-precise calculation begins now.
- At every European Championship and World Cup, millions of Germans become soccer coaches overnight. (All of a sudden, everybody knows better.) (See: Die Mannschaft = The Team)
- Bernd the bread could be invented only in Germany. (Bernd the Bread is a character that is a loaf of bread).
- The Christstollen is an important pastry during the Christmas season.
- The German loves the nuclear family. There are hardly any multi-generation houses.
- The curriculum vitae of a German begins in elementary school.
- The crime scene is for many a ritual that has to be every Sunday.
- Designer clothes and discount plastic bags are no contradiction.
- Germans always „have“ to do a lot. They have to go to work, shopping or to the doctor.
- German traffic lights are unique.
- Germans greet each other with a handshake or hug. „Kiss left, kiss right, kiss left“ is not very common.
- Germans stop at red lights, even if it’s 3 a.m. and there’s nothing going on in the street. (Unthinkable in France, Spain or Italy!).
- Germans fold their toilet paper. (Others just crumple it up).
- Germans flirt by looking away and ignoring. Sometimes it takes hours to make the first move.
Germans go to the dentist once a year to get their stamp.
- Germans always have slippers available for visitors.
- Germans often have a problem with being German.
- Germans crochet an overcoat for the toilet paper.
- German cashiers scan very quickly.
- German children’s fairy tales can be very brutal.
- Germans can always talk about the weather.
- Germans love Mallorca. Ballearen Island likes to be called the „17th state.“
- Germans love cash. They like to pay cash.
- Germans love bargain hunting.
- Germans love their allotment garden. (Also called a dacha.)
- Germans love pasta.
- Germans say „so“ when they want to end or leave a situation. (Anyone who says „so“ is far from finished (with work)).
- Germans seem to have a right to own a home and home ownership. (There are a lot of houses being built).
- Germans seem to have a right to vacation.
- Germans are rather pessimistic.
- Germans are fond of traveling.
- Germans like to stand in lines. At the airport this can be seen very nicely. Even before boarding has started, the first ones are already standing in line.
- Germans and their bureaucracy are a topic of their own. The Asterix and Obelix scene about the A38 pass was probably made just for the Germans.
- Germans like to accuse other Germans of being „typically German“.
- Germans like to dress conservatively or functionally.
Germans hate cable clutter, so they like to use cable sorters here.
- Germany is more than Oktoberfest, lederhosen and beer in Maßkrügen.
- Germany is not divided into West and East, but into Aldi-North and Aldi-South.
- German bureaucracy loves paper!
- Germans are afraid of digitalization. There are still villages without Internet access or communities where „Internet is all“ after one episode of Netflix.
- There are schools without computer cabinets, and hospitals write, print and fax for all they’re worth.
- The Germans love their cars! They polish, vacuum and clean their cars (gladly on Sundays, gladly in the sunshine), car washes are in high demand.
- Homeowners have garages or carports for their favorites. A Forsa online survey showed: every tenth German car is more important than his partner (we already said, please do not take everything written too seriously).
Typical German peculiarities, stereotypes and characteristics: E to Z
- An eggshell breakage maker belongs in every German kitchen!
- Always ventilate, even in winter. But turn off the heating beforehand.
- Halligen exist only in Germany and Denmark.
- On vacation, Germans complain about other Germans.
- In German saunas, everyone is unclothed.
- In German supermarkets there are goods separators. Their authority must not be violated. (This prevents misunderstandings).
- There are three ways to pay in German supermarkets: Cash, card, or deposit.
- In Germany, there is a „day of the nesting set.“ This is annually on February 25.
- There is no bad weather in Germany, only the wrong clothes.
- In Germany there are still too few air conditioners. If it then becomes very hot in the summer, it quickly becomes uncomfortable.
- There are about 20 million garden gnomes in Germany. (By the way, the first German garden gnome was made in Thuringia in the early 1900s. The idea for the garden gnomes, however, is much older. Already in the year 1200 one manufactured garden gnomes in Turkey).
- In Germany the second floor is called „first floor“ and the second floor is called „second floor“. More correct is: A house has a first floor and above the first floor is the first floor.
- In Germany, people are on first-name terms.
In many German living rooms there is a tile table.
- Long weekends or several holidays in a row lead to hoarding purchases and overcrowded supermarkets.
Sunbeds are reserved with towels, usually before breakfast, but by 9 a.m. at the latest.
- Whether it is called „die Nutella“ or „das Nutella“ is still disputed today.
- Socks and sandals are still feasible for many Germans.
- On Sundays, (mostly) all stores are closed.
- Father’s Day is a very special day in Germany. Mother’s Day is rather quiet.
- Christmas means stress in Germany. Stress about shopping for presents. Stress about driving around. Stress about preparing Christmas dinner.
Which sparkling water, which seltzer or which mineral water you drink in Germany is very important for some Germans.
- When the ticket inspector comes on the streetcar, streetcar or bus, Germans get nervous, even if they have a ticket. (Something could be wrong).
- If you pay a small fee with a ticket that is too big, you are usually looked at strangely and asked if you don’t have it smaller. This sometimes leads to some feeling bad and apologizing if they don’t have a more appropriate bill.
- If you don’t go immediately (instantaneously) at a red light, you draw the ire of others. Loiterers are unwelcome.
- Those who do not let others off the streetcar, streetcar, train or bus must expect nasty looks.
Those who have finished shopping in the supermarket have to pack up very quickly. Germans have no patience at the supermarket checkout. Ideally, you pack up as fast as the cashier scans the goods.
- If you want to buy something in a supermarket in Germany, you need a coin or a chip.
- If Germans are spoken to in English, they usually respond in English, if they can.
- At Christmas, there are Christmas markets in Germany.
Typical German food and nutrition: beer, barbecue, meat and sausage
- Bärchen sausage is a German cultural asset.
- Baumkuchen is typically German.
- When toasting, you have to look each other in the eye, and don’t forget that.
- Buns are not called rolls everywhere in Germany. They are called: Semmeln, Schrippen, Wecken or Rundstücke.
- The Germans‘ favorite fruit is the apple! 25.5kg per capita/year in 2018/19.
- Germans (children) love potato pancakes with apple sauce.
- Germans like to eat potatoes.
- Germans like to eat sweet for breakfast. It may be jam, honey or the chocolate spread.
- Germans prefer to ask beforehand what someone is not eating, instead of just cooking something and serving it.
- Germans can open beer bottles (with crown caps) with anything. (Lighter, other beer bottle, edge of table, keys, teeth, knife, …) The sound when a beer bottle with crown cap is opened is called „fump“.
Germans love beer. There are over 5,500 types of beer in Germany.
- Germans love ready-to-eat pizza. (In 2019, every German ate 13 ready-to-eat pizzas per year; in 1990, only 3 per year.)
- Germans love barbecue. (For some Germans, grilling on January 1 is grilling off on December 31. In summer, grilling is a must).
- Germans love cheesecake.
- Germans love dairy products.
- Germans are ashamed of their history. Germans do not forget their history.
- Germans want to buy cheap and good food.
- Currywurst is a symbol of Germany.
- The love of sausage is reflected in the language. Germans say sayings like „Ist mir Wurst“, „Everything has an end only the sausage has two“ or „Don’t be an offended liver sausage“.
- A typical German liquid? Maggi!
- There are over 200 terms for the end of bread.
- There are countless occasions to drink beer: at the end of the day, at lunch, with supper, before the party, during the party, after the party, at friends‘ houses, with friends, while watching TV, while gambling, while sitting in the sun, on the road (Wegbier, Fußpils), while going from one bar to the next, as a nightcap, at carnival – but for some the rule is „no beer before four“. During the Corona crisis, even the „distance beer“ was born.
- Food must not be too spicy.
- For some Germans, meat is their vegetable.
- For some Germans, one „veggie day“ a week is unthinkable and non-negotiable.
- For some Germans, there must be meat every day.
- When abroad, Germans always miss their bread.
- In spring, you have to eat asparagus at least once.
- In an emergency, Germans hoard toilet paper and noodles. (See: Why Germans love toilet paper).
- There are around 1,500 types of sausage in Germany. Germans love their sausage.
- There are about 500 types of bread in Germany.
- Germans love their bread.
- In Germany, there is salad without salad: pasta salad, meat salad, potato salad.
- In Germany, practically everyone is a craftsman. (Put more positively: Germans know how to help themselves).
- In Germany, people like to eat sweet things for lunch. Ex: rice pudding, potato pancakes, semolina.
- In some McDonalds branches in Germany, beer is served.
- Coffee and cake are served at 3 p.m.! This time is not changed.
- Children get school cones when they start school.
- Food is very cheap in Germany.
- Only in Germany is there sweet red wine!
- Germans drank 95 liters of beer per capita in 2020. (Source: Statista)
- Typical German meat dishes: Bratwurst / Rostbratwurst / Weißwurst, Currywurst, Eisbein / Schweinshaxe, Hackepeter (raw on a roll), Leberkäse, Königsberger Klopse, Rouladen, Schnitzel, Schweinsbraten (roast pork)
- Typical German cakes and desserts: apple strudel, Baumkuchen, gingerbread, cheesecake, pancakes, Black Forest cake, stollen
- Typical German vegetarian food: Kaiserschmarrn, potatoes, potato pancakes, dumplings, rice pudding, red cabbage, sauerkraut, mustard pickles, spaetzle
In Germany, anyone who doesn’t want to drink beer in company makes himself suspicious, is quickly noticed and has to put up with comments. (The same applies in some circles to meat in general and schnitzel in particular).
- If you love juice but are afraid of too much sugar, drink spritzer!
- To eat, one wishes „guten Appetit.“
- For lunch, one says „Mahlzeit“.
Typical German: Waste separation
- Germans like to go shopping with their own bags or pouches. (This avoids having to buy a bag and saves trash).
- Germans collect plastic bags in a plastic bag.
- Germans don’t just throw away a plastic bag, but use it as a garbage bag in the end.
- Germans separate garbage. They separate by: Glass, paper, residual waste, plastic, organic, bulky waste and batteries.
- There are different containers for the different colors of glass. Glass is separated into: green, brown and white.
- In Germany there are environmental ministers.
- Deposit bottles are especially German. Deposit machines too.
German stereotypes international
In Europe, Germans usually have a uniform stereotype. Many people associate Germany with Weißwurst, pretzels and lederhosen. Germans are mostly reduced to their southern/Bavarian traditional appearance. People think that Germans always live in the mountains in small wooden huts and live a kind of peasant life. For this, many consider the Germans to be very friendly, funny and punctual. As a contrast to this, however, there are also stereotypes of people who have only met the Germans in passing. For this, Germans are often credited with rudeness and aggressiveness, due to the harsh, ungentlemanly pronunciation of German words.
In Asia, Germans are usually described as polite, artistic and very organized. The image of Germans here is of suit-wearing people with ties, who are always punctual and accurate. Germans are thus seen more as businessmen/women and are often categorized as rich people.
In American, one finds rather few stereotypes of Germans. Here, Germans are either not stereotyped at all, or taken to the extreme: some assume that Germany is relatively backward. Many fall back on history and that Germany probably did not recover after the Second World War.
Germany – the truth
However, the stereotypes do not correspond to the truth. Germans are people who vary. Some may conform to individual perceptions, some are far from it. Germany is home to a wide variety of individuals striving for a wide variety of goals.
Accordingly, the nature and manner of individuals vary greatly and cannot be tied to a stereotype.