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German tradition: The Abitur – More than just taking annoying examinations (pt. 2) Posted by on Nov 30, 2011 in Culture, Folklore, People, School, Traditions

The Abizeitung and Abi-Shirts

In order to remember the time of the Abitur, German students usually make a journal and T-shirts. My schoolfellows and I made an Abi-journal under the motto “imprisonment”. We treated each student as an inmate of a prison (our school) and drew up ‘psychological profiles’ which revealed the particular characteristics and interests of students as well as possible means of ‘socialization’ that disclosed the plans for the future, that is, subjects of studies and career aspirations.

Another custom is to make Abi-shirts or sweaters, which students wear on the day of the Abifez. It generally displays the school-leaving year. Other features are voluntarily. Some students imprint their motto and we imprinted all names of graduates.

The Abiball and the Abifahrt

The most important part of the Abitur is, of course, the Abiturball or Abiball (prom night) and the Abifahrt. The Abiball is quite similar to the American prom night. All school-leavers wear festive clothes: the girls wear ball dresses and the boys wear suits and ties. On the day of the Abiball all hairdressers and make-up artists are usually booked out because all the girls want to look perfect on that night.

Unlike the American prom night, it is not common that boys ask girls out. School-leavers attend the Abiball either with their girl-/boyfriend or as singles. But that does not mean that all singles go alone to the Abiball. Another difference between the American prom night and the German Abiball is that the parents of the school-leaver accompany him/her, so that students, their parents, and teachers celebrate and conclude school-time together. The relationships between Gymnasiasten (German high school students) and teachers are usually very close, friendly and respectful.

The Abiball begins around 7 p.m. and starts with a ceremonial entering of the graduates. Afterwards, the ball is officially opened with the so-called Eröffnungstanz (opening dance). For the following hours, the attendants help themselves from the buffet, drink, talk, dance, and pose for photos. At around midnight graduates and parents separate. Parents go home and the graduates continue to celebrate in discotheques or clubs until dawn. I remember that the day of my Abiball was quite warm and it was raining when a friend of mine and I left the discotheque, my feet were aching, so, I put off my shoes and walked barefoot through the rain. This wasn’t a good idea because afterwards I had had a bad cold.

Last but not least, Gymnasiasten do a final trip together, called Abifahrt. It should be noted that German students go on Klassenfahrten (class trips) or Bildungsfahrten (educational trips) annually. My schoolfellows and I, for example, had been to Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Italy (Rome, Pisa), the Netherlands (Amsterdam), France (Paris) and Great Britain (London). In this way, we had had the chance to get to know different cultures and practice the foreign languages we had been learning in school, which first of all had been English and French. But the final trip or Abifahrt is neither intended to educate oneself nor to get in contact with other cultures. In the first instance, it is intended to have fun and celebrate one’s freedom. It is the only time whenGymnasiasten go on a trip without teachers. Usually, all students head for the same destination but we weren’t in agreement for our final destination, therefore, we split into three groups. One group went to Spain (Lloret de mar), another to Czechoslovakia (Prague) and the third to the Baltic Sea (Germany).

 

I hope that was enough info for you 😉

 

Vocabulary:

das Abi-Shirt = a T-shirt or jumper on which the motto and final school year of a class is printed

der Abi-Ball = prom night

der Gymnasiast – male German high school student

die Gymnasiatin – female German high school student

der Eröffnungstanz – opening dance

die Klassenfahrt – class trip; school trip

die Bildungsfahrt – educational trip

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About the Author:Sandra Rösner

Hello everybody! I studied English and American Studies, Communication Science, and Political Science at the University of Greifswald. Since I have been learning English as a second language myself for almost 20 years now I know how difficult it is to learn a language other than your native one. Thus, I am always willing to keep my explanations about German grammar comprehensible and short. Further, I am inclined to encourage you to speak German in every situation. Regards, Sandra