Monday, April 22, 2013

Home Is Where The Heart Is

In most countries the idea of family is fading away fast. Eating dinner around the table together every night is a thing of the past, stable marriages that endure the decades seem more like rare shooting stars in society other than the 'norm' to aspire to. Germany however, is bucking the trend and singing a different tune: family life is still very much at the forefront of people's minds and lives.

In the UK it feels like everyone is clammering to break free of family and tradition and the town where they were born. I really don't get that feeling here. In fact, it's the opposite: people wear Tracht (traditional clothing of Lederhosen and Dirndls) in special colours and patterns that represent their hometown and what's more, they wear it with pride. People seem to stay roughly where they are from (or at least those from Bavaria and Munich do). Then again, why move away from such a wonderful place: a thriving job market, beautiful (although often difficult to acquire) apartments, mountains, lakes and...of course, beer!

The family element really is lovely though. 'Biergartens' aren't profit making machines (unless you go to the English Gardens) but places for people to come together. Actually, in Bavaria, there is a 'law' so to speak, that you are allowed and even encouraged to bring your own food. This really is a beautiful sight when family and friends gather together around one of the beergardens' long tables, pulls out a pretty tablecloth and everyone has a tupperware with a different tasty delight inside. I love this. I miss this when I am back in the UK, where sometimes (although not always) you have to get drunk to have a good time. Don't get me wrong, we definitely get drunk on our beergarden days too, but that's after  several hours of merriment, rather than downing as much as possible in Happy Hour. Actually, Happy Hour is equally interesting: 10pm onwards! I love this! It makes perfect sense! It means you don't have to go crazy at 4-6pm and drink as much as you can to keep you going throughout the night without breaking the bank.

Families here are so welcoming too. My ex-neighbours took me in like one of their own as soon as I moved in - inviting me to brunches and dinner and generally looking out for me. When I moved house, they all pulled together and helped me, rather than watching me lug my boxes alone down the street. This is so refreshing compared to so many anonymous-feeling cosmopolitan cities where you can't smile at someone without them wondering what your hidden motive is.

Viva Bavaria and the family-feeling!

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