Munich, most famously home to Oktoberfest, is part of Bavaria, in south Germany.
Bavaria, progressively conservative and traditionally modern, differs from the rest of Germany so crassly it may as well be its own country.
But while it prides itself in its famous “gemütlichkeit,” or laid back coziness, a decidedly un-laid back Germanness will rear its head should you make any of the following faux pas.
Luckily this Quora thread has you covered. Here are 12 cultural faux pas you should avoid making in Munich and Bavaria, Germany.
1. Not making eye contact
Bavarians, and Germans in general, are firm believers in making eye contact while cheersing in order to avoid the curse of seven years of bad sex. Should you fail to make eye contact, people might think you’re trying to sabotage their love lives.
2. Not cheersing with enough gusto
In Bavaria, cheersing is an art. Eye contact alone isn’t enough. In Bavaria you’re expected to make eye contact while clinking glasses, and then also hit the glass or bottle down on the table before taking a sip (a heartfelt “prost!” helps too).
The history behind this is that back in the day the German army sneakily conscribed people by buying rounds of beer and hiding wages — then a coin — in said beer. Once someone touched the coin, he was committed to the army, thus hitting the glass on the table first was a way to check whether there was a coin hiding in the stein.
3. Clinking glasses the wrong way
When drinking weissbier (wheat beer), clink glasses at the bottom. Glasses are thin and may break, so bumping them from the bottom is the correct way of doing it. Bavarians will bump bottles this way too.
4. Eating a weisswurst breakfast sausage after noon or eating it the wrong way
A traditional Bavarian breakfast consists of beer (wheat beer, specifically) and weisswurst: a pair of white sausages in a hot watery broth with a side of sweet mustard.
According to local lore, weisswurst is not allowed to hear the noon bells ring. In other words, you should never eat a weisswurst after 12. The reason for this is that these sausages are generally made fresh in the morning, and before the invention of the fridge, they would go bad by noon. Now it’s just a faux pas to eat them after breakfast.
There are plenty of other weisswurst faux pas: Don’t order them in pairs. Ordering a weisswurst automatically means receiving a pair, so asking for two will out you as a foreigner. Also, don’t eat the tough, rubbery skin. Instead, cut a lengthwise slit into your sausage, then pull the skin (Bavarians call it zuzln) off with your fingers.
5. Ordering a small beer
In Bavaria, beer comes in a litre mass. Only the Prussians or foreigners drink from little glasses.
6. Taking up too much room
Most Bavarian restaurants, especially beer gardens, have communal tables and are seat-yourself, so don’t be surprised should someone sit down at a table with you. Trying to claim an entire table for yourself or your group when there’s still room is considered impolite. That said, always ask if the seats are taken before sitting down.
7. Bringing your own beer to a beer garden
While it’s totally OK to bring your own food to a beer garden, bringing your own drinks is a no-no.
8. Getting offended easily
Bavarians, and Germans generally, are honest and straightforward — perceived by many as rude.
Germans are truthful and don’t beat around the bush, but never with malicious intent, so don’t ever be offended.
9. Staring at naked people
Bavaria has a thriving Freikörperkultur (a movement that endorses a naturalistic approach to life), and accordingly has a lot of public parks and beaches where nudity is allowed. You will see a lot of topless women and bottomless men in Bavaria, especially in Munich’s English Garden, so try not to stare. In fact, Munich has six officially designated ‘Urban Naked Zones.’
10. Bringing up anything Nazi-related
Germans are very aware of their past, but would like it to remain there. Don’t say things like “Jawohl!” “Ja mein Führer,” or do the Nazi salute or pretend to have a Hitler mustache.
11. Being late
Being late to Germans is an insult. To them, it basically means that you think your time is more valuable than theirs.
12. Digging into your food before everyone else
First off, always wait until everyone has been served. Then, eat only once everyone has wished each other a “good appetite” (“Guten Appetit”). Not doing so is considered rude.
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