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LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: Cheap transport, Elon’s ‘Berghain reaction’ and May traditions

In our weekend roundup for Germany we look at a story our readers have been enjoying this week, the most extreme reaction to (allegedly) not getting into Berghain and May Day traditions.

Cherry blossom trees line a street in Braunschweig, Lower Saxony.
Cherry blossom trees line a street in Braunschweig, Lower Saxony. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Stefan Jaitner

Will you opt for Germany’s cheaper transport ticket?

One of the biggest stories our readers have been interested in this week is the introduction of the €9 monthly transport ticket and how it will work. Yes, that’s right – Germany is reducing the cost of public transport massively for three months over summer. From June, people will be able to use the special ticket which costs €9 per calendar month – €27 in total. Given that monthly tickets for travel can cost anywhere between €70 and €100 depending on where you live in Germany, it’s a massive reduction. The measure is part of the energy relief package which should ease the pain of inflation made worse by Russia’s war on Ukraine, as well as lure people away from their cars. But there are some worries about overcrowding, and it won’t benefit people who live in rural or less well connected areas. Will you be using the ticket? And do you think it should stick around after three months? Or is it a waste of money?

Tweet of the week

After billionaire Elon Musk struck a deal to buy Twitter, lots of social media users joked that this was a reaction to being turned away from Berlin’s legendary Berghain nightclub. On a recent visit to Berlin, Musk seemed to suggest that he refused to enter the club… but many speculated that he failed to get past the bouncers or couldn’t deal with the notoriously long queue. There is no special treatment when it comes to Berghain!

Where is this?

Photo: DPA/Daniel Löb

Many Germans, including in Bavaria, Lower Saxony and Baden-Württemberg, like to celebrate May Day with a Maibaum (May tree) which is similar to the maypole of European folk fest traditions. It’s no wonder then that Nuremberg has a fun-themed Maibaum for their spring festival. Pictured here on April 16th, the Bayern Tower, a 90-metre high chain carousel, is known as the “highest maypole in the world”. One for the brave people who are not scared of heights!

Did you know?

May 1st is a significant day on the German calendar. Tag der Arbeit (International Workers’ Day) sees marches and demos calling for improved workers’ rights. There are also often riots against the police that take place in some areas, such as Berlin’s Kreuzberg and Neukölln districts. Banks and shops still board up their windows to avoid damage during the riots. 

There’s also the Maibaum tradition that we mentioned above. In some communities across Germany, a tree (or pole) is decorated with colourful streamers and flowers. Apparently towns try to steal each other’s May trees. It’s all part of the fun. 

Dancing in the new month (Tanz in den Mai) is also a favourite of Germans, particularly young people. You’ll find the odd Maifest (May festival) taking place with music and entertainment.  If you’re into witchcraft and fantasy then there is Walpurgisnacht or Hexennacht (Witches’ Night), which runs overnight from April 30th to May 1st. Germanic folklore says witches would meet on the peak of Brocken in the Harz mountains to revel with the Devil. Women in the Harz area (and beyond) still dress up, get their dancing shoes on and pull some moves to this day. 

Thanks for reading,

Rachel and Imogen @ The Local Germany 

This article is also sent out as a weekly newsletter just to members every Saturday. To sign up and get it straight into your inbox just go to your newsletter preferences.

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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 

This article is also sent out as a weekly newsletter just to members every Saturday. To sign up and get it straight into your inbox just go to your newsletter preferences.

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