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LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: Cheap transport, Elon’s ‘Berghain reaction’ and May traditions

In our weekend roundup for Germany we look at a story our readers have been enjoying this week, the most extreme reaction to (allegedly) not getting into Berghain and May Day traditions.

Cherry blossom trees line a street in Braunschweig, Lower Saxony.
Cherry blossom trees line a street in Braunschweig, Lower Saxony. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Stefan Jaitner

Will you opt for Germany’s cheaper transport ticket?

One of the biggest stories our readers have been interested in this week is the introduction of the €9 monthly transport ticket and how it will work. Yes, that’s right – Germany is reducing the cost of public transport massively for three months over summer. From June, people will be able to use the special ticket which costs €9 per calendar month – €27 in total. Given that monthly tickets for travel can cost anywhere between €70 and €100 depending on where you live in Germany, it’s a massive reduction. The measure is part of the energy relief package which should ease the pain of inflation made worse by Russia’s war on Ukraine, as well as lure people away from their cars. But there are some worries about overcrowding, and it won’t benefit people who live in rural or less well connected areas. Will you be using the ticket? And do you think it should stick around after three months? Or is it a waste of money?

Tweet of the week

After billionaire Elon Musk struck a deal to buy Twitter, lots of social media users joked that this was a reaction to being turned away from Berlin’s legendary Berghain nightclub. On a recent visit to Berlin, Musk seemed to suggest that he refused to enter the club… but many speculated that he failed to get past the bouncers or couldn’t deal with the notoriously long queue. There is no special treatment when it comes to Berghain!

Where is this?

Photo: DPA/Daniel Löb

Many Germans, including in Bavaria, Lower Saxony and Baden-Württemberg, like to celebrate May Day with a Maibaum (May tree) which is similar to the maypole of European folk fest traditions. It’s no wonder then that Nuremberg has a fun-themed Maibaum for their spring festival. Pictured here on April 16th, the Bayern Tower, a 90-metre high chain carousel, is known as the “highest maypole in the world”. One for the brave people who are not scared of heights!

Did you know?

May 1st is a significant day on the German calendar. Tag der Arbeit (International Workers’ Day) sees marches and demos calling for improved workers’ rights. There are also often riots against the police that take place in some areas, such as Berlin’s Kreuzberg and Neukölln districts. Banks and shops still board up their windows to avoid damage during the riots. 

There’s also the Maibaum tradition that we mentioned above. In some communities across Germany, a tree (or pole) is decorated with colourful streamers and flowers. Apparently towns try to steal each other’s May trees. It’s all part of the fun. 

Dancing in the new month (Tanz in den Mai) is also a favourite of Germans, particularly young people. You’ll find the odd Maifest (May festival) taking place with music and entertainment.  If you’re into witchcraft and fantasy then there is Walpurgisnacht or Hexennacht (Witches’ Night), which runs overnight from April 30th to May 1st. Germanic folklore says witches would meet on the peak of Brocken in the Harz mountains to revel with the Devil. Women in the Harz area (and beyond) still dress up, get their dancing shoes on and pull some moves to this day. 

Thanks for reading,

Rachel and Imogen @ The Local Germany 

This article is also sent out as a weekly newsletter just to members every Saturday. To sign up and get it straight into your inbox just go to your newsletter preferences.

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LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: FKK, raging Roland and ham on Father’s Day

In our weekend roundup for Germany we consider the possible culture shock of FKK, cool train trips and Männertag.

Living in Germany: FKK, raging Roland and ham on Father's Day

What are your thoughts on Germany’s attitude to nudity?

One of our most popular stories this week was a feature on why Germans love getting naked. Of course this doesn’t apply to every single person in Germany, but there’s undoubtedly a strong culture of FKK – Freikörperkultur – or free body culture. It can be a bit of a shock to foreigners when they first arrive in Germany or visit on holiday. FKK beaches, where people let it all hang out, are jarring when you’ve come from a culture where naked bodies are really only viewed in a sexual context. (Brits and Americans fall into this category!)

That’s the thing about FKK – it’s actually meant to be quite wholesome. Even if Germans are not into FKK, they do – in general – seem more at ease with their bodies than many other nationalities, and aren’t so worried about getting changed in gyms or at the swimming pool. What do you think about Germany’s attitude to nudity? Could we all learn something from it, or is it a bit too open? Drop us an email with your thoughts: [email protected]

Tweet of the week

We had to chuckle at this map of Germany shared by a German journalist on Twitter. Perhaps there’s a little truth to it…

Where is this? 

Photo: DPA/Stefan Sauer

Fancy a ride on a steam-powered train? You can if you head up to the very-cool looking Rügen narrow-gauge railway (Rügensche Bäderbahn), nicknamed the Rasender Roland (raging Roland). It has travelled across Germany’s island of Rügen from Putbus to Göhren since 1895. And, according to local German media, you can also use your €9 ticket in June, July and August on this railway since it’s part of the local public transport. 

Did you know?

We have a nationwide public holiday coming up – Thursday, May 26th is Ascension Day (Christi Himmelfahrt). In Germany it’s also Vatertag or Männertag (Father’s Day/Men’s Day). On this day, you can often see a lot of groups of men drinking beer together. 

This particular tradition apparently comes from the 18th century and it was based on the idea of Jesus’ return to his father in heaven. Back in the olden days, men would be taken into their village centre, and the man who had fathered the most children was presented with a prize by the mayor, which was usually a chunk of ham. That led to the modern tradition we see today of men carting around alcohol, eating food and walking around the countryside. Nowadays, people also use it as a day to party (all genders included) or relax. Whether there’s ham and alcohol involved in your day – or not – we hope you have a great one. 

Thanks for reading,

Rachel and Imogen @ The Local Germany 

This article is also sent out as a weekly newsletter just to members every Saturday. To sign up and get it straight into your inbox just go to your newsletter preferences.

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