Montag, 1. November 2010

Let's celebrate Bavaria's poverty!

Bavarian white sausage, sweet mustard
and wheat bear - a typical German meal?
What to wear when there are 40°C in Bali? Leather pants!

Germans are not really into their own culture. That is why we know a lot better to dance children songs than traditional dances. That is why about 90% don't know how to sing the national anthem. That is why festivals with no deeper meaning (Carneval, Oktoberfest) are a lot more successful than festivals with a historical background.

Anyway when we were asked at a wedding in Indonesia to "wear something German" almost everyone had something traditional on. Few wore soccer shirts - kind of a traditional dress as well:) But why do we discover our cultural conscious only when we are in foreign countries or/and totally drunken? The answer is: For Germans traditions are fun. But not more.

I read an article saying that without prejudices from abroad there was no national identity. Even more astonishing seemed the following statement to me: "Succesful development of a national identity is to reframe negative prejudices into positive ones as long as everone has forgotten that those constructed qualities aren't self-made".

I'm not an expert in ethnology but I'm a bit into tourism. And there are really a variety of examples for creating something what seems to be special out of something that isn't special at all:)

Still my favourite king:
Ludwig I.
The best and most well-known German example is the Oktoberfest. Allthough it is already 200 years old it has not so much to do with German tradition. Bavary was one of the poorest regions 200 years ago. Mainly farmers living there who produced a lot of beer. What sounds awesome today was nothing special in those times. Beer was the poorer people's drink. That is why when Ludwig I. got married to Therese in 1810 he not only invited people from almost everywhere in Bavaria but also offered wine - what was a lot posher those days. The festival was repeated the year after but it got a bit costly to offer wine again. That is why it became a beer festival. Also poorer people qualities (drinking, knocking other people out etc.) became now the "good Bavarian qualities". So in fact nowadays we celebrate Bavaria's poverty and a penny-pinching king;)

Or what about people in Berlin know for their sharp tounge ("Berliner Schnauze"). So they are known to be unfriendly, brash, naughty, crude, rough - and those qualities are seen to be the Berlin experience. Hilariuos;)

Celebrating traditions
Or let me give you an example from where I come from. That reagion is known for a certain language called Low German (Plattdeutsch). In fact I don't know anybody speaking that language. The government even had to pass an anti-discrimination law so that people could fill in documents in public administrations in Low German. But when it comes to tourism there are How-to-speak-Low German-courses, events with traditional dances and you can buy traditional clothing at souvenir shops. Those clothes we don't even wear when we go to Oktoberfest-alike festivals in Northern Germany (Kieler Woche).
So maybe this is a German thing. Let's enjoy the real foreign traditions then and have a few Doner Kebab (Turkey), Sangría (Spain) and dance a little Sirtaki (Greece)...

**Es ist schon eine lustige Sache, regionale recht negativ besetzte Eigenschaften für den Tourismus in positive Traditionen umzuwandeln. Oktoberfest, Berliner Schnauze und das Hochhalten der plattdeutschen Sprache, die eh niemand spricht**

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