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Germany Customs and Culture

The long withstanding and complex culture of Germany constitutes various elements that are representative of the country’s identity. These elements are commonly in the form of art, music, religious beliefs, customs and traditions, traditional clothing, housing and architecture, language, etc. Discussing everything that represents the culture of Germany would require time and effort that shall be spent on research and other activities or processes that will reveal the distinctive qualities of the German culture.

This paper will discuss more about the aforementioned ideas. Background and Location Germany, after Russia, is the country with the largest population in Europe, even though France and Spain are larger in terms of territory. Germany has borders with nine countries, including the Czech Republic and Poland in the East (Bax). It occupies a strategically important geopolitical position in the very heart of Europe; as such, Germany is ideally situated to influence and be influenced in return when it comes to policy decisions, customs and culture.

This country also plays a vital role on the ever-changing European stage, as well as to act as an essential link between East and West in both a European and a global context (Bax). The German media landscape has undergone a dramatic expansion process over the last decade or so. There has been a broadcasting revolution, accompanied by fresh challenges concerning the freedom and regulation of broadcasting. What distinguishes the Federal Republic’s cultural landscape from that of many other Western countries is, above all, the visibility of cultural activity all over the country.

If New York is often regarded as the cultural capital of the United States, or London as that of Great Britain, there is no one single city to claim this title in Germany. Alongside Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg, Cologne and other major cities, smaller towns and even rural areas often boast their own distinctive cultural scene and offer cultural attractions to locals and visitors alike. Population and Dialect The majority of Germany’s population live in small towns and villages, with around one-third living in one of the eighty-four cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants, defined in German as Gro?

stadte. Berlin (3. 5 million), Hamburg (1. 7 million) and Munich (1. 3 million) are the largest cities, followed by Cologne, Frankfurt, Essen, Dortmund, Stuttgart, Dusseldorf and Bremen (Parkes). Leipzig and Dresden, in the east, come just behind Nuremberg, with just under half a million inhabitants each. Although it is not the norm, it is still possible today to find Germans living in rural communities who speak only dialect, hardly using High German (Hochdeutsch) at all and who feel far more attached to their particular local region than to Germany as a whole.

Until recently, when an influx of refugees came from Eastern Europe, Germany had one of the lowest birth rates in the world. Amongst a population of approximately 82 million, there are now around 7 million foreigners (Land and People). The Turks are by far the largest group, with nearly 2 million, followed, in order of size, by those from the former Yugoslavia (this was always a large group, now swelled by the many war refugees), Italians, Greeks, Poles, Austrians, Romanians, Spaniards, Iranians, Portuguese, Americans, Dutch and many more.

It is worth remembering two facts about Germany’s foreign population. Nearly half of them have been living in Germany for at least ten years, and more than two-thirds of the children born to foreign parents were born in Germany, although being born in Germany does not give them German nationality. Education and Political System Federalism is a vital thread running through several facets of life in contemporary Germany. It affects people’s daily lives in various ways. The German education and political systems, to give just two examples, are influenced by the federal structure.

The FRG’s system of state funding and patronage has often been praised as beneficial for artistic development and for making culture more accessible to the public. Doubtlessly, it has contributed to the existence of a lively and prolific cultural scene-one which is both open to international, particularly Anglo-American, influences and committed to fostering its own distinctive expressions of traditional and contemporary culture. Germany’s external borders have changed frequently, and there are very strong regional ties amongst its people.

Even today some Germans feel they are first and foremost from a particular region or locality, be it Hesse, the Rhineland, Brandenburg or wherever. It would therefore be dangerous to try to describe in too much detail ‘the German people’. There are fifteen federal states, not to mention the districts within those states. The local traditions, customs and regional idiosyncrasies in areas of Germany, such as Hamburg, the Palatinate, Friesland, Saxony or Swabia, are just as colorful and fascinating, and the local dialects are certainly just as hard for the outsider to understand.

Impacting Historical Events Building of the Berlin Wall In 1961 the Berlin Wall was built in order to separate East Germany from the West. A barrier was formed in terms of cultural, political, economical and freedom rights. Germans are separated by said the Iron curtain which curtailed their unity as citizens of one nation. The said wall was built as part of the cold war and the proud development of Wet Germany made quality of life more profound and successful.

The wall is a mere representation of selfishness against the east because life for westerners is more comfortable. Building the said wall made several restrictions when it comes to education, business and relationship among Germans. Fall of the Berlin Wall One of the considerably historical events in Germany is the fall of the Berlin wall from November9-10 1989 (Buckley 25). It has a global significance and made a great impact in the German customs. The fall of the wall marks the balance between the east and the west and at the same time made millions of people united.

The border that divides Germany faced its downfall making it possible for people from separate region face each other and be more exposed in terms of customs and culture. The said fall ended the cold war and making several exceptions in rules like longer store hours and free ticket for transportation. The gap between the westerners and easterners also fell down together with the wall. People are more united and are allowed to go inside and outside of their respective borders without visa (Buckley). Religion Religious tradition in Germany strongly influences people’s way of life.

Christianity is the dominant religion taking up 70% of the population. The remaining percentage is devotees of Protestantism (Bax 174). The government is very strict in terms of collecting church tax whenever some discloses information about religious association. The northern and eastern parts of the country are mostly dominated by Protestants while most of the southerners and westerners opted to become Catholics. The division of people in Germany in terms of religion has a huge impact on cultural traditions.

Although Protestants are not equal to Catholics in terms of numbers, their goal of establishing changes in terms of religious practices made them put up a movement leaded by Martin Luther (Bax 74). Protestants wanted to change the way of life in Germany when it comes to false doctrines and church malpractices. Family Structure & Gender Roles Family in Germany is not given much importance as compared to other culture. “Germany recorded fewer marriages, more divorces, and smaller families” (Marriage and Family in Germany). East Germany has greater record of marriage failure than in West Germany.

Easterners marries earlier than westerners. They are very much willing to marry at an early age so that they can raise funds for their family and provide living at an early age. Since people from East Germany are engaged in early marriage, there are also bigger chances of divorce among young couples. German families are also small in terms of numbers (Marriage and Family in Germany). They are not fond of having many children because they are afraid of not giving them the right care and needs. The role of women in Germany is also given prior importance when it comes to career (Marriage and Family in Germany).

They are not the stereotypes who will devote themselves in childcare and household chores (Marriage and Family in Germany). Women in Germany are dynamic and usually perform duties of men. Gender discrimination is not rampant in Germany. Relationship with of Germany Internationally In the course of the twentieth century, visible economic success gained relative importance in determining Germany’s social standing (Bax 263). Economic factors became more and more important – though within limits, as mentioned above – in determining social relations and even cultural phenomena.

The national system operating in Germany today means that power is not all concentrated in one capital, as happens in United States, London or Paris, the German regions and Land capitals have taken on considerable importance. This again strengthens the role of the federal states in the German way of life, since the Land has autonomy in four key areas: education, broadcasting/culture, health and police (Bax 263). This, in turn, means that many Germans feel a strong attachment to their particular Land, especially if they live in a rural setting, where regional differences tend to be more pronounced than in big cities.

Within this general commitment to culture, the federal state is, primarily, in charge of Germany’s cultural representation abroad. Today Germany occupies a central position in Europe, and has common frontiers with nine European states. Whenever Germany has been united it has wielded enormous power owing to its large population, economic might and military strength, factors which combine to give Germany’s political leaders great influence, and which have in the past seemed to threaten its smaller neighbors and to challenge other leading European powers.

The new Germany’s changing European and global role, and the importance of its foreign policy initiatives are crucial to current and future developments. There can be little doubt that reunited Germany – with its powerful industrial and financial sectors, large well-trained population, and situated in the heart of the continent – will occupy a pivotal position not only in the European Union, but also internationally. Works Cited: Bax, Belfort. German Culture: Past and Present. BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2008

Buckley, William F. , Jr. The Fall of the Berlin Wall. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons. 2004. “Land and People”. Questions & Answers about Germany. 2 June 2009 from <www. germanyinfo. org/relaunch/info/facts/facts/questions_en/landandpeople/population. html> Parkes, S. Understanding Contemporary Germany, London and New York: Routledge, 1997. “Marriage and Family in Germany”. German Culture Website. 2 June 2009 from <http://www. germanculture. com. ua/library/facts/bl_marriage. htm>

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