Germany, home to sauerkraut, Volkswagens and Rammstein band members alike, offers plenty of culture, history and fun facts. You can order beer by raising one thumb; three thumbs would indicate two beers. Plus there’s the longest word in German language that provides plenty of entertainment – making Germany truly fascinating country to discover!
1. The German language is one of the oldest languages in the world.
Germany is home to an irreplaceable culture and language unlike any other in the world, boasting millions of native-speaking German-speakers around the globe and numerous others who have learned it as second or third languages.
German is one of the oldest languages in existence, dating back to West Germanic tribes’ establishment in various kingdoms in the 5th century. These tribes were known as Saxons in southern Germany and England (Anglo-Saxons), Franks between Rhine and Weser rivers, Alamannen in central and south-western Germany and Thuringians living in eastern France.
Middle German first appeared during the Middle Ages, when language standardization took hold and printed books began appearing. At that time, die (die) became part of standard usage while ge- became an often-used prefix for participles like gebrochene, verlaufende and zusammengebrochene participles.
After Napoleon’s defeat in 1815, Germany joined together into a Federal Republic. A German parliament called the Bundestag was created, along with a constitution. This new nation state was founded upon democratic principles but allowed for some private freedom alongside some centralized economic planning and government regulation.
German has several words that cannot be translated to any other language, including “ohrwurm,” which refers to having a song stuck in your head, and Treppenwitz, an ironic comeback that you only remember after it has already happened. Additionally, German has three genders for nouns instead of just two – making communication even more challenging – the longest of these being Donaudampfschiffahrtselektrizitatenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaftskapitan which spans 79 letters and means “Association of subordinate officials of the Head Office Management of Danube Steamboat Electrical Services”; only fluent German speakers can pronounce this word correctly.
2. Germany is the birthplace of the Volkswagen car.
Germany, one of Europe’s largest nations, spans from mountainous southern regions to flat sandy regions and features a diverse landscape, culture and history. Home to grand royal castles as well as modern, high-rise cities; Volkswagen was invented here! And Germany boasts some remarkable cultural treasures and historic landmarks, not least its legendary icon: Volkswagen car!
The Beetle was first developed during Nazi Germany’s 1920s/30s heydays; specifically under Hitler and Ferdinand Porsche, an innovative engineer and politician who would come to be known as its father figure. While the car is commonly associated with this oppressive regime, its roots actually lie elsewhere – possibly with Ferdinand Porsche himself rather than Hitler directly.
Beginning with an idea for a cheap, practical car that could be afforded by nearly everyone, Porsche was called upon by Hitler to create his version of “people’s car.” Once Porsche was hired to design and create production facilities for it, Hitler went full force in producing this popular model.
Fallersleben, 75km east of Hannover, became home for this factory that became known as the Stadt des KdF-Wagens bei Fallersleben for its initial years of production. The goal was for every German family to own one of these cars by setting up payment plans so they could save up and buy one – until World War II broke out and production had to cease before most Germans could receive their cars – eventually being taken over by Allied forces and switched entirely over to military equipment production instead.
3. Germany is the largest beer consumer in the world.
Germany, one of the world’s largest economies, is renowned for its technological innovations and has produced some of Europe’s greatest composers, philosophers and poets. Additionally, German beer dates back 12,000 years to Mesopotamian distillation practices which first started 12,000 years ago!
Germans’ love of beer is so deep-seated in culture that it forms a cornerstone of local society. Germans consume more amber beverages than anyone else in the world and consumption has steadily grown over the last several years; recent figures reveal they drank an average of 93 liters each in 2018.
Beer holds an iconic place in Germany’s northern states, where its brewing industry was established. Here you’ll find many famous breweries such as Weihenstephan’s flagship brewery founded in 1040; additionally there’s also an abundance of different beer styles from Gose to Berliner Weisse to be enjoyed in Germany.
Although beer consumption in Germany had been on a gradual decline since 2014, 2018 marked the first year since then in which there was an uptick. This could be attributable to World Cup hosting duties or could indicate more people have adopted healthier habits and reduced beer intake.
German beer makers continue to flourish, opening new breweries all across Germany. According to estimates, there are now an estimated 5,500+ breweries operating throughout Germany producing around 12 unique beers each.
4. Germany is the birthplace of gummy bears.
Germany is a Western European nation home to forests, rivers, mountain ranges and North Sea beaches. Germany also features iconic landmarks such as Brandenburg Gate and Hofbrauhaus beer hall in Munich; as a democratic republic with both an expansive past and vibrant present it makes an ideal location.
Gummy bears were first created in Germany in 1922 by Hans Riegel, founder of Haribo candy company. Inspired by trained dancing bears found at German festivals and markets at that time, Riegel decided to shape soft fruit-flavored candy into iconic bear shapes to form Haribo candy bars that have since become iconic icons worldwide.
Original Gummibaren were sold for just one Pfennig (German penny), making them accessible and affordable to many families during Germany’s economic struggle. But today they are more commonly known by their English name of Gummy Bears.
Germany has struggled with high unemployment at times, particularly during the Great Depression of the early 1930s. That year saw Adolf Hitler rise to power and begin expanding Germany’s empire before eventually being defeated in World War II by United States forces led by Britain and France.
German society today enjoys an excellent standard of living. With a large population and one of the world’s largest economies, Germany boasts world-class museums and universities as well as delicious beers and wines which attract many tourists each year. Visitors from around the globe travel here each year to take in its rich culture and stunning landscapes.
5. Germany is the birthplace of the Christmas tree.
Christmas Trees have long been associated with Germany as the birthplace of Christmas, though its exact history remains murky. Some sources indicate that in 723 AD, an English missionary named St. Boniface arrived to Northern Germany and encountered pagan ritualists preparing to sacrifice a young prince to the god Donar. To appease them, Boniface cut down an oak tree near them and offered that an evergreen would serve as a holy tree instead; these Pagans accepted his offer and Boniface began spreading Christianity among them.
The first known reference of a decorated Christmas Tree dates back to the 16th Century when devout Christians brought live trees into their homes for decoration and gifts. Some even created wooden pyramids as containers for storing these seasonal presents.
Germans are widely credited with creating the modern Christmas tree through combining two distinct traditions: The Paradise Tree and Christmas Light. The former featured a decorated fir tree (or wooden frame) decorated with apples to represent Eden; it would often appear in medieval German Mystery or Miracle Plays performed before churches on December 24th; many believe this to be Adam and Eve’s birthday.
By the early 17th Century, it had become common to have a fir tree in one’s home decorated with golden apples, candy, paper flowers and other sweet treats – as evidenced by written records dating back to 1605 which stated they “set a fir tree in their parlours and hang thereon roses made of many-colored paper, wafers, gold foil and sweets”.
In the 19th Century, ornaments such as toys, ribbons, garlands, and lights were added to Christmas Trees as decorations for decorating them in homes in London slums. Their popularity soon outshone that of World War I; anti-German sentiment soon diminished its use but quickly returned after that until most households in Germany decorated trees by 1935.