Living in Germany: Immigrant startup founders, partial public holiday and Holland near Berlin

Living in Germany: Immigrant startup founders, partial public holiday and Holland near Berlin
Photo: DPA
From an upcoming holiday in some parts of Germany on Wednesday to a very useful expression, we break down some of the most interesting aspects of German life and culture this week.

Each week the team at The Local Germany sends out a weekly members' newsletter looking at some of the quirks, perks and big issues for people living in the country. Here's the latest round-up and remember to get in touch if you spot anything that we should write about.

Tweet of the week

More and more migrants from all corners of the world have come to Germany over the past years. So it’s not surprising that 25 percent of all start-ups are founded by someone with an immigrant background.

The couple who co-founded Mainz company BioNTech, known for its partnership on a promising coronavirus vaccine, were thrust into the media spotlight this week. Both are children of Turkish guest workers (Gastarbeiter) who came to Germany in the 1960s.

Upcoming public holiday in Saxony (and partially Bavaria)

2020 is notorious for many things in Germany, one of them being the large number of public holidays which fall on a weekend.

But if you live in the eastern state of Saxony, you can look forward to a day off from work next Wednesday, November 18th. For pupils in Bavaria, it’s usually a day off from school.

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The day marks Buß- und Bettag, or Repentance Day, as it’s known in English.

The holiday used to be celebrated across the German-speaking territories and beyond. In 1878, for example, it was celebrated in 28 countries.

Where is this?

No, this photo (credit: DPA) wasn’t taken somewhere in Rotterdam or Amsterdam. But it does hail from the appropriately titled Holländisches Viertel in Potsdam, the capital of Brandenburg, Berlin’s neighbouring state.

Consisting of 134 Dutch red brick buildings, the neighbourhood was originally built between 1733 to 1740 by Dutch architect Jan Bouman following the order of Frederick William I of Prussia.

The area housed many Dutch workers at the time, and the King wanted to give them a place where they could feel at home away from home.

Did you know that?

An example of thumbs being pressed for luck. Photo: Wikimedia commons

While English speakers cross their fingers for luck, Germans hold their thumbs or “drücken die Daumen”.

This appears to come from the days of ancient Rome and gladiator fighting where the emperor would indicate whether the losing fighter was to be executed or not. Thumbs up would mean the swords were to be brought out and the man dies, whereas a hidden thumb meant that the sword would be sheathed and the man lives.

Have your say

Several of our readers are talented artists – whether professionally or as a hobby – and this painting only proves it. Susan Holliday, an American living in Tübigen, sent us her latest autumn work.

“I like to imagine the girl & the pumpkin she carved in her image have been good friends since Halloween. How can she tell him that now Thanksgiving is approaching and that means…pumpkin pie!” she wrote.

Whether or not you’ll also be celebrating the classic American holiday from abroad, this piece pays homage to one of Germany’s favourite foods when the weather turns cold: Kürbis (which translates directly into both squash and pumpkin).

Do you have an artistic talent you’d like to show off to us (and other Local members)? Write to us at [email protected].

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