If you’ve mastered these eight tricky skills, you’re truly now a German

Some people might say that becoming a German is about taking language classes, going through a citizenship test, and all that official nonsense. But we think the following things are a much better measurement.

If you've mastered these eight tricky skills, you're truly now a German
Wolfgang Petry. Photo: DPA

1. Perfectly peeling a Weisswurst

If you are a real beginner, you probably still eat your Weisswurst with the skin on. But when you are more acquainted with the delightful white sausage, you become aware that there are various ways to eat it – all of which require extracting the meat from the skin.

Old-fashioned types insist on never placing their fingers on the meat, so as to avoid getting their hands greasy. That means slicing neatly from one end of the sausage to the other before carefully peeling away the skin with a prong of your fork. If you are not experienced, you are sure to pull much of the meat away with the skin, destroying the pearly work of art that once sat steaming on your plate.

But there are several other ways to de-skin the Weisswurst – as shown in the video above – including the “banana” style, which involves skinning it section by section from the top down. And if you do want to get you hands dirty try, zuzeln: a method of cutting open the skin at one end before sucking the meat out.

2. Cutting up the powder on day one of the ski season

Photo: DPA

It’s not fair really. It's not just children in the southern states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg who get a special holiday in February so that they can go skiing: many northern states have it too. Go to any alpine slope in the middle of the winter and German kids who can barely walk will be obediently following a ski teacher down the slopes.

If you were brought up visiting the mud slopes of Scotland a couple of days every winter, or having to travel thousands of kilometres to get to the nearest snow in the US, you're probably not so comfortable trying to balance on two pieces of waxed plastic on the edge of a sheer mountain. 

So when your first thought at the start of the ski season is “forget the black run, I'm heading over the top of that cliff” – you know you've become pretty deutsch.

3. Opening a beer bottle with a piece of paper

It's not that bottle openers don't exist in Germany, it's just that they are never conveniently at hand when you need them – i.e. on the U-Bahn on your way back from work, on a park bench, or right next to you on the kitchen table. That's why hobby engineers in the Bundesrepublik have been working on readily available alternatives for years.

Popping the top of a beer with a lighter is of course standard. But what if you don't smoke? Germans have developed ways of opening their beer with a folded up piece of paper, a key ring, or even a yard stick. There is even a guy called Dave from Saxony who has made a YouTube career out of it, as shown above.

If you haven't yet found your own unique way of cracking open your Helles, get your thinking cap on.

4. Pouring a beer with a decent head

Photo: obs/Krombacher Brauerei GmbH & Co./DPA

While we are on the subject of beer, pouring it properly is the next great test of Germanness.

If you come from the UK, you probably take the idea of having a beer with head as an affront, and demand that the barman fill the glass to the brim so that you get your money’s worth.

But a German understands that a healthy Schaumkrone (beer head) tells you that the beer still has fizz. The head also acts to prevent the beer from sloshing out of the glass, and holds the aromas inside, German aficionados claim.

Learning how to pour the perfect beer isn’t easy, though. That depends on whether you are drinking a Helles (lager) or a Weizen (wheat beer).

With a Helles you need to tilt the glass to a 45 degree-angle before you pour. When the glass is a third of the way full, you should let the beer develop a head before pouring the rest. A Weizen is trickier. Once you have poured around two-thirds of the beer into your glass, you need to roll the bottle between your hands to release the yeast from the bottom.

Get this right and you have some Germ-fabulous skills.

5. Knowing the responses to Wahnsinn by Wolfgang Petry

For reasons we cannot explain, not every German is a fan of Schlager music – the kitschy German pop normally sung by men with moustaches and luscious mullets. 

But that doesn’t mean that they don’t known all the words to the classic 1980s hit Wahnsinn (crazy) by Wolfgang Petry. Every German under the age of 40 heard this song in their kitchen growing up. And knowing the words sure comes in useful when you are at a party where the golden oldies are playing.

But looking up the lyrics online isn't enough. There is a famous call and response here. After Petry sings “warum schickst du mich in die Hölle?” you need to shout “Hölle, Hölle, Hölle.”

6. Tongue-twisting at full speed

Photo: DPA

Yes, it can be fun tormenting you German friends by getting them to try and say “she sells seashells on the seashore.” But how fast can you say “Fischers Fritz fischt frische Fische. Frische Fische fischt Fischers Fritz”?

If you can say it five times in a row after three strong bottles of Helles, and without making a mistake, you've certainly earned the right to call yourself a German.

7. Being comfortable cruising on the Autobahn at 150 km/h

Photo: DPA

As we all know, Germany is the only country in the world that doesn't have speed limits on its motorways nationwide. For those of us who migrate from countries where the recognized speed limit is when it's still safe to stop in front of a stray sheep, it can be nerve-wracking getting used to German driving.

So if you find yourself cruising down the Autobahn with only one hand on the wheel, while the cars in the slow lane turn into one long blur of blue, red and black, and not a single bead of sweat drips down your forehead, then you've gone native.

8. Cycling with a beer in your hand

Photo: DPA

It's not just on their highways that Germans like to engage in road behaviour that isn't exactly advisable in most other countries. The Teutons love cycling, which is great. And they love beer, which is also great. Above all, they like cycling while holding a beer in one hand, which is ever so slightly intimidating the first time you do it. And since it is mostly done on the way to a place where you will drink more beer, it seems ever so slightly futile.
But if you can chill at a red light with a beer in one hand as the police pull up, and casually hide the bottle behind your thigh – congratulations, you've passed the test.
For members


Living in Germany: Battles over Bürgergeld, rolling the ‘die’ and carnival lingo

From the push to reform long-term unemployment benefits to the lingo you need to know as Carnival season kicks off, we look at the highlights of life in Germany.

Living in Germany: Battles over Bürgergeld, rolling the 'die' and carnival lingo

Deadlock looms as debates over Bürgergeld heat up 

Following a vote in the Bundestag on Thursday, the government’s planned reforms to long-term unemployment benefits are one step closer to becoming reality. Replacing the controversial Hartz IV system, Bürgergeld (or Citizens’ Allowance) is intended to be a fair bit easier on claimants.

Not only will the monthly payment be raised from €449 to €502, but jobseekers will also be given a grace period of two years before checks are carried out on the size of their apartment or savings of up to €60,000. The system will also move away from sanctions with a so-called “trust period” of six months, during which benefits won’t be docked at all – except in very extreme circumstances. 

Speaking in parliament, Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) said the spirit of the new system was “solidarity, trust and encouragement” and praised the fact that Bürgergeld would help people get back into the job market with funding for training and education. But not everyone is happy about the changes. In particular, politicians from the opposition CDU/CSU parties have responded with outrage at the move away from sanctions.

CDU leader Friedrich Merz has even branded the system a step towards “unconditional Basic Income” and argued that nobody will be incentivised to return to work. 

The CDU and CSU are now threatening to block the Bürgergeld legislation when it’s put to a vote in the Bundesrat on Monday. With the conservatives controlling most of the federal states – and thus most of the seats in the upper house – things could get interesting. Be sure to keep an eye out for our coverage in the coming weeks to see how the saga unfolds. 

Tweet of the week

When you first start learning German, picking the right article to use can truly be a roll of the “die” – so we’re entirely on board with this slightly unconventional way to decide whether you’re in a “der”, “die”, or “das” situation. (Warning: this may not improve your German.) 

Where is this?

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

Residents of Frankfurt am Main and the surrounding area will no doubt recognise this as the charming town of Kronberg, which is nestled at the foot of the Taunus mountains.

This atmospheric scene was snapped on Friday morning, when a drop in temperatures saw Kronberg and surrounding forests shrouded in autumnal fog.

After a decidedly warm start to November, the mercury is expected to drop into single digits over the weekend. 

Did you know?

November 11th marked the start of carnival season in Germany. But did you know that there’s a whole set of lingo to go along with the tradition? And it all depends on where you are. First of all, the celebration isn’t called the same thing everywhere. In the Rhineland, it’s usually called Karneval, while people in Bavaria or Saxony tend to call it Fasching. Those in Hesse and Saarland usually call it Fastnacht. 

And depending on where you are, there are different things to shout. The ‘fools call’ you’ll hear in Cologne is “Alaaf!” If you move away from Cologne, you’ll hear “Helau!” This is the traditional cry in the carnival strongholds of Düsseldorf and Mainz, as well as in some other German cities.

In the Swabian-Alemannic language region in the southwest of the country, people yell “Narri-Narro”, which means “I’m a fool, you’re a fool”. In Saarland at the French border, they shout “Alleh hopp!”, which is said to originate from the French language. 

Lastly, if someone offers you a Fastnachtskrapfe, say yes because it’s a jelly-filled carnival donut. And if you’re offered a Bützchen? It’s your call, but know that it’s a little kiss given to strangers!