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LIVING IN GERMANY

Five things you’ll find in (almost) every German home

If you have German friends, you're bound to have come across a number of these items in their home.

Wooden egg cups decorated with bunnies.
Wooden egg cups decorated with bunnies. Photo: picture alliance / Monika Skolimowska/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa | Monika Skolimowska

Slippers

An employee of an internet startup wears slippers while working in Berlin.

An employee of an internet startup wears slippers while working in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Emily Wabitsch

The first thing you’ll notice when entering most German homes is a collection of shoes by the front door. 

Though not every German will insist on the removal of Straßenschuhe (street shoes) when entering their homes, they will usually have some comfy, warm Hauschuhe (slippers) ready to hop into. 

Households which are particularly hygiene-conscious will usually have pairs for the whole family and for guests too.

READ ALSO: Five German lifestyle habits you should think about adopting

A collection of empty bottles

Various deposit bottles in front of and in a box on the floor.

Various deposit bottles in front of and in a box on the floor. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Lino Mirgeler

One of the things that people are usually pleasantly surprised by when they first move to Germany is the Pfandflasche (deposit bottle) system, whereby you can return cans and plastic and glass bottles for a partial refund. 

Though not every bottle is a Pfandflasche, those that qualify are usually collected by German households to be taken back to the supermarket and processed at the sorting machine in exchange for some cash or money off their shopping. 

A filing system

A woman takes a folder from a shelf.

A woman takes a folder from a shelf. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

From the odd folder to a full cabinet, the majority of Germans will have some sort of filing system in their homes. 

This is because Germans tend to take their laws and regulations very seriously, and so, tax returns, invoices, and expense slips need to be saved for years – which usually requires at least a few folders. 

READ ALSO: Three things I learned after moving to Germany

The need for home-filing is also due to the fact that most German authorities still favour paper communications over e-mail, meaning that most households have an abundance of paper correspondence to deal with.

A plant

House plants on a window ledge.

House plants on a window ledge. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Zacharie Scheurer

Whether it’s a green jungle in the living room, a flowery balcony paradise or a solitary cactus in the bathroom, most German households will have some sort of plant. This is especially important for people in flats who have to get a little bit creative to create the feeling of having their own garden. 

survey from 2020 showed that an incredible 74 percent of Germans own a house plant, with hardly any difference in ownership between men and women.

Egg cups

Egg cups in the shape of chickens, of the classic GDR design.

Egg cups in the shape of chickens, of the classic GDR design. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Stefan Sauer

No proper German breakfast would be complete without a boiled egg, served in a cup. In fact, this type of egg is often called a Frühstücksei – or breakfast egg.

They can be plain or colourful, classy or flashy, plastic, porcelain and stainless steel. Some egg cups even have their own spoon and mini salt shaker.

The “Huhn” or “Chicken” egg cup is a particular favourite. It was produced by the brand Sonja Plastic in the GDR from the 1970s and is now considered a design classic.

Vocabulary

folder – (der) Ordner

shelf – (das) Regal

filing system – (das) Ablagesystem

plant – (die) Pflanze

egg cup – (der) Eierbecher

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

Member comments

  1. Wonderful article! I visited a friend near Munich last year, and I recognize all of the items, haha. I very much appreciate the vocabulary words at the end. I need them. Danke!

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LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: Facing up to racism, Erdbeersaison and Schleswig-Holstein votes

In our weekend roundup for Germany we explore a study on racism, strawberry season and take a look at the state election in Schleswig-Holstein.

Living in Germany: Facing up to racism, Erdbeersaison and Schleswig-Holstein votes

Can Germany face up to its racism problem?

Many of you have told of us about the discrimination and racism you’ve faced in Germany, particulary when it comes to trying to find a place to rent and in working life. So we were interested to report on a study on how people in Germany perceive the issue of racism.

According to the survey by the newly set up Racism Monitor more than a fifth of the population (22 percent) – said they had been affected by racism, and 45 percent said they had seen racist incidents. And nearly all respondents to the survey – 90 percent – said they believed that racism existed in the country.

Tareq Alaows, a Syrian refugee who hoped to run for German parliament last year but changed his mind due to racism and threats, tweeted that the study was a “wake-up call to our society to finally look and recognise racism as the danger it is”. He said the study also showed the “anti-racist potential in society”.“This must open the debate and move us all to action,” Alaows said. 

Tweet of the week

Sometimes you just have to take a break from the big problems of the world and tweet about Star Wars. We see you, German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann. 

Where is this? 

Photo: DPA/Daniel Bockwoldt

We hear a lot about Spargelzeit (asparagus season) in spring, but what about Erdbeersaison? Yes, strawberry season is underway as this photo from Grömitz in Schleswig-Holstein shows. Starting from now and throughout summer, you can expect to see strawberry ‘pop-up’ shops around the country on the side of roads and on streets.

And it’s not just strawberries they sell. You will also come across boxes of fresh blueberries and, later in the season, Pfifferlinge (chanterelle) mushrooms. We thoroughly recommend that you get out into the countryside and pick up some fresh produce in the coming weeks and months. 

Did you know?

The northern state of Schleswig-Holstein will elect a new parliament on Sunday, May 8th so we thought we’d look at what makes this northern state tick politically. With 2.9 million residents, the state, between the North Sea and Baltic Sea, is the second smallest German state after Saarland.

Christian Democrat Daniel Günther has led the state since the last election in 2017. He governs with the Greens and the Free Democrats (FDP) and is standing for re-election. Recent polls put the CDU in the lead, so this constellation could return. But other coalitions are possible. Important topics for this state include green energy – the state has been racing ahead with its wind energy production and, according to experts, it wants to show how it is key to Germany getting away from relying on Russian energy.

Thanks for reading,

Rachel and Imogen @ The Local Germany 

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