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7 German Home Traditions Posted by on Feb 17, 2021 in Culture, Traditions

Guten Tag! Last time on the blog, we looked at some of the features of a German home. Today, continuing on the theme of ‘Wir bleiben zuhause’ (‘We’re staying at home’), we’ll look at some German home traditions.

German Home Traditions: Housewarming

german home traditions

das Brot. Photo by Kate Remner on Unsplash.

A tradition surrounding die Hauseinweihung (housewarming) in Germany is to give bread and salt to loved ones as a housewarming gift, as this indicates that you hope they’ll never go hungry; bread is a staple food, and salt acts as a preservative. There is even a German saying about the bread and salt tradition:

Brot und Salz – Gott erhalt’s!
Bread and salt – God preserve it!

Relevant vocabulary:

Die Hauseinweihung – housewarming
Das Brot – bread
Das Salz – salt

German Home Traditions: Kehrwoche

german home traditions

die Kehrwoche. Photo by Daniel von Appen on Unsplash.

Literally ‘sweep week’, Kehrwoche is a tradition common to apartment buildings in Germany. To keep the apartment block clean, residents must take it in turns to perform duties such as sweeping the floors in the communal areas, cleaning the windows, watering the plants, and so on. This is taken seriously in Germany- in some cases, you could be breaking your rental contract if you do not co-operate in Kehrwoche. You can read more about Kehrwoche here!

Related vocabulary:

kehren – to sweep
die Woche – week
putzen – to clean
der Mietvertrag – rental contract

 

German Home Traditions: Richtfest

german home traditions

das Dach – roof. Photo by Pat Whelen on Unsplash.

Richtfest is a tradition for those who have just finished building their house (or, in some cases, had major renovations done to the roof). When the house is declared finished – usually when the final roofing element is complete-, Germans like to have a mini-ceremony called Richtfest to thank all the construction workers and to declare their house ‘open’. You can read more about the Richtfest tradition here.

Relevant vocabulary:

Das Richtfest – topping out ceremony
Das Haus – house
Das Dach – roof
Der Bauarbeiter – construction worker

 

German Home Traditions: Ghost guard dogs

german home traditions

Photo by Kenan Suleymanoglu on Unsplash.

This one falls into the category of German superstitions. It is believed that, if your dog dies and you bury them underneath your front doorstep, their spirit will guard your house. Spooky, or comforting? You decide.

Relevant vocabulary:

Der Aberglaube – superstition
Der Hund – dog
Die Eingangsstufe – doorstep
Der Geist – spirit

 

German Home Traditions: Chalking the doors

Chalking the doors – see top left! Anupam, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

This is a new year tradition common to Catholic regions of Germany, where houses and shops receive new year’s blessings by having an inscription chalked onto their front doors. You can see what the inscriptions look like in the photo above, and can read more about chalking the doors by clicking through to this post.

Relevant vocabulary:

Das Neujahr – New Year
Die Kreide – chalk
Der Segen – blessing
Die Inschrift – inscription

 

German Home Traditions: Kaffeeklatsch / Kaffee und Kuchen

german home traditions

Photo by Coffee with Joshua on Unsplash.

The Germans have a great fondness for inviting people over to each other’s houses for Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake), a tradition which you can learn more about in this post. Also referred to as Kaffeeklatsch (literally ‘coffee chat’ or ‘coffee gossip’), this tradition is thought to have originated in the 17th century, when coffee houses first became popular in Germany; women, who were not permitted to go to coffee houses at the time, would instead gather in each other’s homes to enjoy the coffee and chat. Though things are very different today, Kaffee und Kuchen Kultur is still a much-loved part of German life, be it in someone’s home or in a cafe. Read more about Kaffeeklatsch here.

Relevant vocabulary:

Der Kaffee – coffee
Die Kultur – culture
Der Klatsch – gossip
plaudern – to chat

 

German Home Traditions: Barbarazweig

Image by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Barbarazweig is a December tradition in honour of Saint Barbara, celebrated in some Christian households. Literally ‘Barbara branch’ or ‘Barbara twig’, the Barbarazweig tradition involves placing a cherry leaf branch in a vase in your home on December 4th. If it blooms by Christmas day, you will have good luck in the coming year. A cherry leaf branch in a vase in December may seem odd, but should you ever visit a German home and see one, you now know what it signifies! Read all about the Barbarazweig tradition here.

Relevant vocabulary:

Der Kirschzweig – cherry leaf branch
Die Vase – vase

 

Read part one, ‘Features of a German home’, here.

 

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About the Author: Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze and I live in the UK. I'm half English and half German, and have been writing about German language and culture on this blog since 2014. I am also a fitness instructor & personal trainer.


Comments:

  1. Thyphane:

    Gruß Gott, Liebe Constanze aus Afrika.
    Ich danke dir, denn dein Blog ist für mich ein ausgezeichneter Hilfsmittel im Laufe des Lernens der deutsche Sprache.


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