German culture is well over 2,000 years old and has changed and evolved as most cultures do over such a lengthy period of time. The first detailed description of Germanic culture was written by Julius Caesar in his "Gallic Wars". American culture, by contrast, has developed over a relatively short period of time in the scale of history. American culture is a mixture of Anglo-Saxon, French, and Native American beliefs and customs, in addition to myriad other culture practices brought to the New World by America's immigrants.
German is the official language of the Republic of Germany. It is a member of the West Germanic Languages and is spoken by roughly 120 million people worldwide. German is used in all aspects of German society, from schools to government functions. English, as spoken in its American form, is the recognized language of the United States, but not the official language. English is also a member of the West Germanic languages although it was very heavily influenced by French after the Norman Conquest of 1066.
German teenagers typically finish their high school education at the age of 16, when they decide whether to transfer to trade school, a university, or to enter the workforce. Drivers' licenses are not obtainable until the age of 18. Alcoholic beverages such as beer can be legally purchased by teenagers from the age of 16. American teenagers finish their education at the end of the 12th grade, which is around the age of 17 or 18. At this point they decide whether to enter the workforce, continue their education, or enter the military. A teenager can drive at the age of 18 but cannot purchase alcohol until the age of 21.
New Year's Eve
In Germany New Year's Eve, or Silvester, is celebrated by friends and family members at their houses. The traditional meal consists of pork ribs and bratwurst, simmered in sauerkraut for the entire day. Gluehwein (warm spiced wine) is served, as are other spirits and beer. The striking of midnight is celebrated with fireworks, a toast to the New Year, and a joyous "Prost Neu Jahr!" In America New Year's festivities are either celebrated at home or out at bars or nightclubs. Snacks are mostly served during a party, with music and dancing to follow. The celebrations wrap up with a countdown to midnight, followed by a toast of "Happy New Year!" New Year's resolutions are also common in the United States, in which people promise to give something up, most of the time a bad habit.
For breakfast most Germans eat something light. A soft-boiled egg or an open-faced sandwich top the list, along with butter and jam on rolls. The midday lunch is usually also as light, with pork ribs, bratwurst, or a noodle salad as favorites. Dinner is big deal in Germany. Schnitzel or sauerbraten may be served with gypsy sauce and french fries or other potato dishes. Most families sit together and talk about their days. In America breakfast is a bigger deal. Pancakes, sausage, and eggs or French toast may be served. Lunch is typically a smaller meal, with sandwiches, soups, or salads to tide a person over. Dinner is usually served in the mid to late evening. Steak, hamburgers, and seafood are favorites.
In Germany males are required to serve one and a half years in either the Bundeswehr (army) or the Seemacht (navy). Outside of physical disabilities, all males must enlist at the age of 18. In the United States all four branches of the military depend upon volunteers. Males at the age of 16 are allowed to enlist and may report for duty after graduating high school. Initial enlistments range from two to six years, depending on the job the recruit has interest in.
- Germany image by Angelika Bentin from Fotolia.com