German Culture: 10 Steps To Germanize Yourself

What does it take to be German? The author of Make me German “adds his mustard” on becoming “germanized.”

1. Wear Your Hausschuhe

Germans love their Hausschuhe (house shoes) so you must too. View anyone who doesn’t wear house shoes as a primitive savage. Part human, part dirt distribution device. And it goes without saying — always take off your shoes when you enter a house.

For bonus German points add a little Hausschuh-ception to your life by buying an Einsteckpantoffel, a large felt house shoe that hangs by your front door and contains other house shoes, to lend to your (now very impressed) house guests.

2. Dress Normcore

Fashion is hard for many Germans because there aren’t any clear rules. It’s more art than science. Therefore, they have found an ingenious solution that you must also adopt in order to Germanize yourself. That solution is called normcore.

Normcore is attempting to be as average and anonymous as possible: normal, only made hardcore. Germans express their normcore by favoring practical clothing (like brands such as Jack Wolfskin) that emphasize engineering over something as pointless, fickle and downright vague as fashion. German logic dictates that you can’t possibly be out of style, just as long as you were never attempting to be in it.

You should treat fashion like it’s a high-school birthday party you’ve not been invited to — don’t try and get yourself invited nor reveal that you care you’ve been snubbed. Instead, normcore.

3. Respect The Ampelmännchen!

Empty road? Not a car insight. Doesn’t matter. Always respect the Ampelmännchen — guardian of the crossing pedestrian! To dare challenge his authority and step gingerly out into a completely empty road when he is still red, is to take great personal risk. Not of getting run over, of course. No, what you risk is the scorn, the tutting and the shouts of “Halt!” from nearby Germans who will now consider you an irresponsible, possibly suicidal, social renegade. So, just wait. Okay?

4. Respect Nature

Cities are okay. But they are so fake and unnatural, what with their buildings and their lights and their WLAN. They’re nothing compared to the over-sentimentalized nostalgia of the simpler, purer times that are on offer in the countryside: the fresh air…birds, twigs, mud, trees and other such “real” nature stuff. Therefore, to Germanize yourself, regular immersion in nature is important for your Seele (soul).

This is why you should regularly wandern (go hiking) on Sundays. It’s also why you should automatically buy anything with the word Bio on it. “It must be better, it’s bio,” is your new motto. It’s also why you shouldn’t buy your children fun electronic toys that flash and have been specifically programmed to be engaging and to teach them things. They’re so fake, with their Scheiß Plastik. Instead, give your children a wooden block, shaped a little bit like a rabbit. This will teach them a) the intellectual superiority of things made of wood and b) that they should really be more imaginative.

5. Get Qualified

Other cultures might reward effort, regardless how bad the actual result is. “Nice try! Give it another go!” But this is not the German way. Germans value practicality and specialism. If you’ve not studied it, if you’re not qualified in it, you’ve no right to even attempt it. Treat “generalism” and generalists suspiciously — like a witch would have been in the middle ages.

6. Make It A Schorle

Since Germans fear any beverage that doesn’t fizz, to Germanize yourself, add Sprudelwasser (fizzy water) to everything you drink. The pinnacle of all this is, of course, the spectacular German invention — Apfelsaftschorle (apple juice and mineral water)!

Beloved in Germany, completely unknown in other countries. It’s like the default-go-to-Getränke-BFF of the entire nation. You’ll know you’ve truly Germanized yourself if anytime a waiter arrives at your table, and you’ve not had time to check the menu and decide what you want, you panic and order Apfelsaftschorle.

7. When In Doubt, Potato

Anyone who says the Germans lack imagination is wrong. They’ve just concentrated it in very specific areas like outdoor clothing, bureaucracy, sentence-strangling compound words, mixed soft drinks and, perhaps most impressively, variety of potato dishes. In most countries, potatoes come in the following basic forms — mashed, baked, boiled, fried, and, that fickle modern wonder, wedged. Oh, amateurs! To be German is to do everything possible to the potato, and possibly one or two things more. Here’s a list of just some of the German potato inventions you need to master to Germanize yourself:

  • Salzkartoffeln
  • Bratkartoffeln
  • Kartoffelbrei
  • Kartoffelpuffer
  • Kartoffelklöße/-knödel
  • Kartoffelauflauf/-gratin
  • Kartoffelsalat
  • Kartoffelsuppe
  • Rösti
  • Ofenkartoffeln
  • Kroketten
  • Stampfkartoffeln
  • Kartoffelecken
  • Pellkartoffeln
  • Pommes frites,
  • Petersilienkartoffeln
  • Rosmarinkartoffeln
  • and more…

8. Discover More Subtleties Of German Cuisine

“Hello Trainee Chefs, welcome to German Kochschule! Now that you’ve mastered the potato it’s time for lesson two: here is Wurst and here is Brot. Now, are you paying attention? Good! Put the Wurst inside of the Brot. Now, what’s next? Hmm, well, actually, that’s pretty much it. Congratulations, you are now qualified! Here you can collect your certificate. Good luck out there.”

9. Don’t Small Talk

Small talk is for small minds. Just say whatever it is you are thinking, honestly and directly. Subtext is really overrated. If someone asks you how you are, you have two options: be brutally honest or, if someone absolutely forces you into small talk, you can fall back on the six most common German small talk phrases, which make up 50% of spoken conversation — gut, naja, ach so, alles klar, und sonst so, and tja. Whole conversations can be held using just these most flexible of German phrases which can be combined into nearly any order. Tja, is best used last, for expressing both the conversation and life’s completely futility.

10. Be Accurate!

It’s very important to correct other people when they say something incorrect, no matter how small and utterly inconsequential it might be. They are wrong. You are aware of this. Facts are holy. It’s your duty to inform them. This, the Germans call being a Klugscheißer (“smart shitter” or “know-it-all). Germans, being whip-smart fact-lovers, are world champions of the Klugscheiß.

It doesn’t matter if someone is right in the middle of telling a story. It doesn’t matter if their minor factual indiscretion has absolutely no bearing on it — like that the doctor’s appointment was not actually at 8pm, but rather at 7.30pm. They are liars! From tiny acorns of incorrectness mighty oak trees of deception may grow. They must be corrected!

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