German Culture and Lifestyle: Greetings
As an American living in Germany, I have learned a lot about people. In my city, (Wuppertal) I have met people from all over the world – Italy, France, Spain, Poland, Greece, Syria, Iran, and many others. It has been in these intercultural exchanges that I have learned a lot about people and other cultures. There are notable cultural differences that I have found to be interesting throughout my experiences in Germany. I won’t go into all of them in this post, however, I would like to address the way Americans and Germans greet each other.
In the USA, it’s quite common to greet someone with a “Hello. How are you?”. I never really thought about it, as I have grown up my entire life knowing this to be both a polite and courteous way of saying hello. I suppose that I don’t really care how most people are doing, unless if they are close to me. But this is still my preferred way to say hello. It just simply sounds nice – at least to me, anyway.
In Germany, it’s quite uncommon to use this greeting. I have tried to use it (in German) to Germans. They often seem to either be confused or they respectfully answer the question knowing that I am some type of strange foreigner from a galaxy far, far away. But really, they prefer just a simple “Hello”. They might also say “Good day”.
What is interesting about all of this is when a German asks me why we say “How are you?”. I don’t really know what to say. I mean, how do I answer this? I guess to put it simply – I just like it. For me, when I say hello to someone, whether I know or the person or not, I want to be friendly.