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Thread: Oops, ich Dummkopf! .

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    Default Oops, ich Dummkopf! .

    Itís easy to make a cultural faux pas when youíre abroad, and thereís nowhere easier to do it than in Germany, says James Cave.

    There are rules for just about every part of German life, but often it can be hard to know what those rules are – until you break them, that is. You wonít find a list of rules written down anywhere, but there’s nothing like making mistakes to make you learn quickly.
    The following are four of the most common rules that most visitors to Germany end up breaking, mostly unwittingly.
    Sundays are sacrosanct

    Sunday is a day of rest and, in Germany, thatís enshrined into law. The vast majority of shops remain closed, and itís forbidden to make any kind of noise. This not only includes the use of power tools or lawnmowers but even things like washing machines and vacuum cleaners.
    Anything noisy should be kept for the other six days of the week. Well, almost. Between 13:00 and 15:00 is known as the Mittagsruhe in Germany, and many parts of Germany still religiously honour this rule.
    So is recycling

    In some countries, some people recycle and some people donít. In Germany recycling isnít really optional; itís a religion. The police wonít come after you if you don’t, but your neighbours will. If youíre spotted putting something into the wrong bin, you can expect anything from a polite lecture on the importance of recycling to a more humiliating scolding.
    So, always recycle. Except on a Sunday, of course, when you canít because of the noise rule.
    Wait for the green man

    Although youíre supposed to wait for the green man at road crossings in every country, Germans actually do wait patiently. Dare to cross the road when itís red, and you may hear a tut-tutting. And if there are children present, itís quite likely that one of the adults will actually shout at you.
    So, when in Germany, always wait for the green man.
    Real men sit down

    German men sit down to pee, it’s more hygienic.
    Youíll see signs in cafes telling you to be a Sitzpinkler (someone who sits down to pee) and not a Stehpinkler (someone who stands up), and itís assumed that if you use the toilet in someoneís house youíll sit down to pee as well.
    Donít fight it, just adapt. Youíll soon see that, like so many other German rules, thereís a lot of sense to it.

    James Cave spent several years in Germany where he co-wrote German Men Sit Down to Pee and Other Insights into German Culture. These days he’s in Portugal, where he writes the blog Portugalist.com

    Related posts:
    1. To ‘Sie’ or to ‘du’
    2. Germans on holiday: more stress, less rest
    3. With umbrella, charm and melon

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