Germany: Party Traditions

24.04.2015

Alexandra Goryaeva

M.Sc. Information Systems

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Cowboy hats are well-known party symbols worldwide

German students love partying. In which country students don’t, you will probably ask. But unlike Russia, where there are those who like clubbing and those who’d rather read a book or have dinner at home, all the Germans are partying and drinking in their free time. The guys you would categorize as botanists or wallflowers — in Germany, they are the sole of any party.

The Germans work hard and party hard. That pretty much gives you the whole picture. Almost any party involves drinking as much alcohol as it is humanly possible. You can find yourself with a beer and a shot of Jägermeister, on a party in a bunch of places, more or less suitable for it. Examples for me: a club, a bar, somebody’s apartment, where 50 people in a 3-room flat isn’t nearly a limit, outside on a loan near the university building you just had classes in — if the weather allows. Oh, and those cute Christmas markets everybody likes so much? Well they are also favored by students because of all the mulled wine you can get yourself drunk with.

German Bars

Drinking beer in a bar is so common and everyday that it’s considered plainly  boring. A lot of bars in Germany have their own brewery. So while you can use a menu and choose beer for yourself, it’s a common curtesy just to show the number of fingers to a waitress to get a ‘default’ sort.

The majority of Germans don’t do snacks with beer (or anything else for that matter). I’ve even once been in a bar in Münster with absolutely no snacks on the menu. Fortunately, in that bar there was a bowl of peanuts on each table that got replenished every now and then.

German word for toasting is ‘Prost’, and an important-to-know superstition is that you should look each other exactly in the eyes when clicking your glasses/bottles. When a group is big, it’s really difficult to honor the tradition, but a real German would insist and stare at you each time. It’s not as disturbing as it seems , if you keep in mind that not doing that equals to bad sex for 7 years (!!!). Amazingly enough, that is virtually the only superstition I’ve seen the German students follow…

BBQ! BYOW&BYOB

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Yep…that’s my dinner for tonight

That is not a cursing or a fancy IT conference name, but rather a real message I got this week, informing me about my evening plans. The Germans love barbecues. In Russia, BBQ (or ‘shashlyky’, to be more precise, but the idea is the same) usually means going somewhere distant, in a park or a country house, with a company of friends and/or a family. We plan it in advance, find out the number of participants, buy meat, drinks, vegetables and disposable dishes together. One person cooks the meat, others make salads, set some kind of shared table for everybody.

In Germany, it is much more loosely organized. Somebody, who owns a grill and has nothing to do, calls his friends, they call their friends, and soon they all are on the loan in front of your window, more grilles set up, people coming with packs of beer (BYOB — bring your own beer) and sausages (BYOW — bring your own wurst) for grilling. You just find some place on a nearest grill for your sausage and something to open you beer with. More people living nearby come out with their food and their own dishes from home. No disposable dishes! The glass bottles from beer can be refunded afterwards. For each four bottles you can buy one more with refunded money.

BBQ is not just a nice way to have dinner outdoors. There are also numerous drinking games, giving you an opportunity to get more beer, and maybe one more bottle, and the next day you realize you had a sack too much and half of the evening is lost in your memory.

Partying indoors

Indoor parties are also mostly BYOB. Like I’ve already told you, snacks are not really a thing, so if you want some, bring some. Sharing cups or glasses is also not common — guests usually drink beer from the bottles anyway. So if somebody likes wine or something else, they bring a bottle and their own (shatterproof) glass with them!

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Looping Louie: for ages 4 years and waaay up

The parties are not only about drinking. It’s about playing drinking games, too. I’m not gonna try and name them all, I bet I don’t even know a third of existing variations. But children games are very popular for some reason. If you once saw grown men and women crying loudly and cursing violently over a simplest child’s ‘improve your reaction’ game, you can never forget that image.

During the party, the more people there are in the flat, the merrier it gets. All the main fun usually goes on until 3-4 am. About that time people start leaving, some even by bikes, unable to go straight but determined to get home unnoticed by the police. Drinking and driving a bike isn’t allowed, remember?

The neighbors, especially if they are students themselves, usually are understandable about all the noise. But still, sometimes people get too excited and loud. In Russia, angry neighbors would come over and threaten to call police, meaning ‘get everybody in trouble over disturbance of peace’. Naturally, when I saw two police officers at the door of a huge and loud German party I was a guest on, I was really worried. I also felt as if my friends were betrayed by their neighbors who called the cops. Why didn’t they try the nice way first? — was my question. However, it turns out in Germany it is nor a big deal neither a problem. For neighbors, it’s easier to call the police about the noise, because it’s their jobs to keep peace. They also know that the first call doesn’t bring any trouble. Our party never stopped, the officers just warned us that fun should not get out of control. However, their second visit would be so nice, but this is rarely necessary. The volume of music in the flat was just decreased a little bit and that was the end of it.

Kneipen Bachelor

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My Mom is proud right now!

The extend to which the Germans love getting drunk with beer (the thing I wouldn’t even think was really possible before) can be really seen during Kneipen Bachelor event. It is held once a semester, and during this night it’s all about getting a beer degree.

Thousands of students sign up, or ‘apply’, for Kneipen Bachelor (or Beer Bachelor) in advance. On the stated date you get a ribbon and a map. The goal is to go to a number of bars on the map and drink a small beer in each of them — all in 2 or 3 hours. The number of bars for Bachelor’s degree is 10, for Masters — 12, then 14 for PhD and another 16 for Professor’s degree. It seems innocent enough if the first beer you get is 0,2l. But in most bars they give you 0,33l or even 0,5l, depending simply on what they have. The path becomes more difficult to follow, the map doesn’t help anymore, each bar seems a great place to have a pause and rest in, but you must go on! It’s still the easiest degree you can get in Germany, but not as effortless as you’d think at first. Nothing is effortless in Germany…:)