Germany Fun Facts

Germany Fun Facts
John F. Kennedy visited Germany in 1963 and announced "Ich bin ein Berliner", I am a Berliner, someone in solidarity with those living in separated Berlin. Although stories persist this was incorrect it was linguistically accurate, but a Berliner is also the name for a jelly donut in much of Germany. Although, ironically, not in the country's capital Berlin where they are known as Pfannkuchen.

The Garden Gnome was "born" in Germany. In the 1800's they began to appear in Eastern areas, where a myth describing gnomes who helped in, and protected, gardens had been folklore for generations, and soon the garden gnome "species" was to be seen throughout Germany, spreading across Europe, crossing the channel to England and eventually around the world.

There is a Barbie doll made in a 'Barbie-like' image of Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, and it has no resemblance whatever.

Out of the estimated 94,943,848 people in the world who speak German, 89.2 percent use the Internet.

One spice appears in or on so many things it has to be called Germany's "can't live without" spice. From sausages and cheese, even bread, sprinkled on potato chips, fried eggs and schnitzels, it is almost impossible to escape 'Red Hungarian Paprika'.

There are about 300 different varieties of real bread in Germany, with thousands of genuine baker’s shops, so there is a life beyond "pumpernickel", and if you decide to try one variety a day it will take almost a year to get through them all.

It would take even longer if you want to try every one of the specialty sausages Germany produces, over two and a half years, as there are more than 1,000 varieties, each with different flavorings, herbs, spice mixture, piquancy and texture.

As for beer...there are over 5,500 different brands.

There are also more football clubs in Germany than anywhere else in the world.

Hearths with open fires are much loved in Germany, even in apartments, and as fires mean chimneys with soot and other debris there are of course chimney sweeps. But these are traditional sweeps, Schornsteinfeger who look as if they have stepped back in time. With brushes carried over their shoulders, and from 'chimney sweep' families that often reach back generations, they still wear the black suits with gold buttons and black top hats exactly as they were worn centuries ago.

The German nobility as a legally defined class was abolished on August 11, 1919, when Germans were made equal before the law, and the legal rights and privileges due to nobility ceased to exist. However titles of all types and levels of status abound and are invariably used, even among small children attending Kindergarten or school, while often the minor, and even not-so-minor, misdemeanors of those with an aristocratic heritage are looked upon in a more benign way than those who have not.

Germany’s oldest city is Trier which was established in 16 BC, and known as "the second Rome" because it was the home of Roman emperors including Constantine the Great and Valentinian I. Despite Trier’s hot springs having been a feature of the land for centuries it was the Romans who first enjoyed and made use of them. They built therapeutic "Baths" used to cure arthritis and rheumatism that are still in use today, and they did this not only in Trier but, among other towns and cities, in Baden-Baden, literally "To Bathe-To Bathe" or "Baths-Baths".

Construction started on the Cologne Cathedral in 1248, when the city was part of the Holy Roman Empire, but it took 632 years until the building was finally completed, to the original plans, in 1880. It was conceived to house a shrine, the large decorated gold sarcophagus believed to contain the relic’s of the Three Wise Men. The biblical Magi, Melchior, Balthazar and Casper. Holy Roman Emperor Fredrick Barbarossa had given them to the then Archbishop of Cologne in 1164, having first removed the relics from Milan where they had been cared for since the 5th century.

Germans have a reputation of being direct, "honest and to the point" as their way is called, which can be a little unnerving at times, but this does not normally happen to the same extent on television. For some years however, the German equivalent of American Idol, or the British X Factor, has had an on/off pop star as a jury member whose judgments have a tendency to be very "honest". A sensation because German TV had never before seen anyone quite like him. Most of his comments are "too much" to repeat, but here are two of the "nicer" ones:

Du singst wie ein Gartenzwerg auf Ecstasy
You sing like a garden gnome on ecstasy
Die Schuhe sind okay. Alles andere würde ich löschen
The shoes are okay. Everything else I would delete

Englischer Garten, the English Garden, in Munich, Bavaria, was Europe's first public garden. Larger than Central Park but smaller than London's Richmond Park, at over 900 acres it is one of the world's largest urban public parks, and was founded in 1789, by an English-American scientist living on former hunting grounds alongside the Isar River.

It is beautifully laid out in the informal English style of landscape gardening fashionable from the mid 18th until the mid 19th century, nevertheless, for those of a sensitive nature, it is a good idea to plan your walking, jogging or cycling route through the park carefully in fine weather. In many areas the German cult of sunbathing in the nude, "Freikoerperkultur" literally Free Body Culture, or naturism, is enthusiastically followed.

Not really what one would expect to come across in an "English" park, and the sights to behold are nothing like as exciting as they might sound.

You Should Also Read:
Lucky Chimney Sweeps, Germany's Schornsteinfeger
Garden Gnome Culture
German Music Fast Facts

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This content was written by Francine McKenna-Klein. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Francine A. McKenna for details.