German Society and Culture
German society is a modern, open-minded society: Most people are well-educated and enjoy a high standard of living, as well as sufficient freedom to be able to plan their lives as they themselves see fit. Nonetheless, like in other major industrial nations, German society is facing the challenge of solving problems of demographic trends, in particular the aging of society. Nor, 20 years after reunification, have the social consequences of the division of Germany been fully overcome. In the course of globalization Germany has taken a path that has made it a modern immigrant society with increasingly ethnic cultural diversity, and has increased its efforts to integrate the migrants in the nucleus of society. The socio-economic change over the past few years—accelerated through the consequences of the worldwide economic and financial crisis—has led to the emergence of new social risk situations and to greater diversification in society in terms of economic living conditions looming.
Etiquette and Customs
- When introducing yourself use your last name only.
- Shake hands with everyone when arriving and leaving.
- Never shake hands with one hand in your pocket.
- Titles are important use them correctly and if unsure use a higher title.
- Use last name and title unless invited to be on a first name basis.
- Never put your hands in your pockets when talking with someone.
- Never use the okay sign because this is considered a rude gesture.
- Never point your index finger to your own head. This is considered an insult.
- Give books, bourbon, whiskey or classical music and American-made gifts are appropriate.
- Do not give knives, scissors, umbrellas, personal items, extravagant gifts or wines.
- If invited to someone’s home, always bring a small gift for the hostess.
- Give an uneven number of flowers except for 13, yellow roses, tea roses, or chocolates are good.
- Do not give red roses or carnations.
- Nobody drinks at a dinner party before the host has drunk. The host will raise his glass to the woman on his right and then toast to the health of the group. Thereafter, people may drink as they see fit.
- When toasting as a guest, hold the glass only at the stem, clink your glass with everyone near you at the table and say “prosit,” then take a drink. Then look into the eyes of someone at your table and lift your glass just slightly, then bring your glass down to the table
- Keep your hands on the table at all times through the meal, and try to keep your elbows off the table.
- Knives and forks are used to eat fruits, sandwiches and most other foods.
- Knifes are not used to cut potatoes or dumplings.
- Do not leave any food on your plate when your are finished.
- If you are not finished eating and would like more food cross your knife and fork on your plate
- The honored guests are expected to make the first move to leave (Germans don’t tend to stay long after dinner).