Germany with its rich cultural heritage is known to many as the land of poets and philosophers. Customs and traditions that are often associated with certain times of year are part of the German way of life. The major holidays are Easter and Christmas, which have a Christian origin and are often celebrated together with the entire family.
Have you ever heard of the “fifth season”? Thousands of people take to the streets in colourful costumes to celebrate Carnival every year in February or March in Rhineland-Palatinate, enjoying huge parades in Mainz, Coblenz and Trier.
German etiquette is relatively formal. When greeting someone, you shake their hand and use the formal “Sie” address. The invitation to use the informal “Du” is generally offered by the person who is older or of higher rank. Younger people are usually more casual and easygoing.
You answer the phone with your last Name, and at work add the company name and possibly your department. A “Guten Tag!” at the start of the call and “Auf Wiederhören!” or “Tschüss!” at the end is never wrong.
Germans value punctuality very highly. For both personal and professional appointments, you are expected to be precisely on time. This is particularly important at work.
In your personal life it is less of a problem if you arrive a few minutes early or late. If you have agreed to meet friends at 10 AM, for example, you should arrive between 9:55 and 10:05 AM.