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LIVING IN GERMANY

Five things you’ll find in (almost) every German home

If you have German friends, you're bound to have come across a number of these items in their home.

Wooden egg cups decorated with bunnies.
Wooden egg cups decorated with bunnies. Photo: picture alliance / Monika Skolimowska/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa | Monika Skolimowska

Slippers

An employee of an internet startup wears slippers while working in Berlin.

An employee of an internet startup wears slippers while working in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Emily Wabitsch

The first thing you’ll notice when entering most German homes is a collection of shoes by the front door. 

Though not every German will insist on the removal of Straßenschuhe (street shoes) when entering their homes, they will usually have some comfy, warm Hauschuhe (slippers) ready to hop into. 

Households which are particularly hygiene-conscious will usually have pairs for the whole family and for guests too.

READ ALSO: Five German lifestyle habits you should think about adopting

A collection of empty bottles

Various deposit bottles in front of and in a box on the floor.

Various deposit bottles in front of and in a box on the floor. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Lino Mirgeler

One of the things that people are usually pleasantly surprised by when they first move to Germany is the Pfandflasche (deposit bottle) system, whereby you can return cans and plastic and glass bottles for a partial refund. 

Though not every bottle is a Pfandflasche, those that qualify are usually collected by German households to be taken back to the supermarket and processed at the sorting machine in exchange for some cash or money off their shopping. 

A filing system

A woman takes a folder from a shelf.

A woman takes a folder from a shelf. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

From the odd folder to a full cabinet, the majority of Germans will have some sort of filing system in their homes. 

This is because Germans tend to take their laws and regulations very seriously, and so, tax returns, invoices, and expense slips need to be saved for years – which usually requires at least a few folders. 

READ ALSO: Three things I learned after moving to Germany

The need for home-filing is also due to the fact that most German authorities still favour paper communications over e-mail, meaning that most households have an abundance of paper correspondence to deal with.

A plant

House plants on a window ledge.

House plants on a window ledge. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Zacharie Scheurer

Whether it’s a green jungle in the living room, a flowery balcony paradise or a solitary cactus in the bathroom, most German households will have some sort of plant. This is especially important for people in flats who have to get a little bit creative to create the feeling of having their own garden. 

survey from 2020 showed that an incredible 74 percent of Germans own a house plant, with hardly any difference in ownership between men and women.

Egg cups

Egg cups in the shape of chickens, of the classic GDR design.

Egg cups in the shape of chickens, of the classic GDR design. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Stefan Sauer

No proper German breakfast would be complete without a boiled egg, served in a cup. In fact, this type of egg is often called a Frühstücksei – or breakfast egg.

They can be plain or colourful, classy or flashy, plastic, porcelain and stainless steel. Some egg cups even have their own spoon and mini salt shaker.

The “Huhn” or “Chicken” egg cup is a particular favourite. It was produced by the brand Sonja Plastic in the GDR from the 1970s and is now considered a design classic.

Vocabulary

folder – (der) Ordner

shelf – (das) Regal

filing system – (das) Ablagesystem

plant – (die) Pflanze

egg cup – (der) Eierbecher

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

Member comments

  1. Wonderful article! I visited a friend near Munich last year, and I recognize all of the items, haha. I very much appreciate the vocabulary words at the end. I need them. Danke!

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LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: Looking abroad for airport workers, greeting cards and chimney sweeps

In our weekly roundup for Germany we look at what the government is doing to ease the air travel staffing crisis, very German greeting cards, lightning storms and the Schornsteinfeger - chimney sweep - lucky tradition.

Living in Germany: Looking abroad for airport workers, greeting cards and chimney sweeps

Germany looks for help abroad to ease aviation staffing crisis

Last week the German government made the exceptional move of stepping in to help private firms in the aviation sector restore their staffing levels. Ministers announced they will cut red tape to allow private companies to employ workers from abroad on a temporary basis, due to the chaos that we’re seeing in German airports and airlines. From long queues at security or when claiming baggage, to flights being cancelled, it can be a real nightmare to travel in Europe at the moment. One reader even contacted us to say he had to wait two and half hours on a plane in Düsseldorf because there apparently wasn’t enough baggage staff to load cases onto the flight. That’s why the German government says it will allow companies to employ staff from abroad at short notice. However, at the same time, ministers came down hard on the private sector for not preparing for the rising demand for travel. German’s Labour Minister Hubertus Heil Heil criticised many companies in the aviation industry for laying off staff in the pandemic – or not topping up reduced hours (Kurzarbeit) pay despite government support. 

Even if the sector manages to fill many positions, it will still take time to clear hurdles so it looks like we’re in for at least a few more weeks of stress if travelling by plane. And with more states about to go on their school holidays, it’s just going to get busier. Keep us posted on how it’s going in German airports if you’re on the move this summer – we’re always eager to hear your experiences. 

Tweet of the week

The dedication to cars and driving in Germany is quite something, as the tweet below shows. 

Where is this? 

Lightning over Frankfurt
Photo: DPA/Jan Eifert

There’s been a lot of mixed weather in Germany this week, with extreme heat, thunderstorms and hailstones depending on which part of the country you live in. This picture shows a spectacular storm on Thursday in the Frankfurt area. It was taken from the Großer Feldberg in the Taunus mountains.

Did you know?

I (Rachel) received my first visit in Germany from a chimney sweep (der Schornsteinfeger) on Friday. Although I don’t have an open fire in my flat, chimney sweeps in Germany are still needed once a year to check your heating system, check for gas leaks and carry out any other maintenance in that area. Did you know Germans also believe seeing a Schornsteinfeger brings good luck? Some say it comes from the olden days when sweeps cleared your chimney meaning you’d be able to cook again and reduced the risk of fires. It’s also meant to be especially lucky to see a chimney sweep on your wedding day or New Year’s Day. This is thought to be partly because traditionally chimney sweeps would collect the fee for their services on the first day of each new year, meaning they were often among the first to wish families a happy new year. Along with miniature pigs (which Germans also find lucky), horseshoes, ladybirds and four-leaf clovers, little chimney sweeps made out of marzipan or plastic are also given as a New Year’s gift to loved ones.

READ ALSO: Eight things German believe bring good luck 

A chimney sweeper in Wernigerode, Saxony-Anhalt.

A chimney sweeper in Wernigerode, Saxony-Anhalt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Matthias Bein

Some chimney sweeps (although not all!) wear a traditional uniform complete with top hat and silver buttons. Giving one of the buttons a twirl is said to bring good luck, but you’d have to politely ask them before doing it!  

Thanks for reading,

Rachel and Imogen @ The Local Germany 

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