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Greet with the world “servus”, never order a Weißwurst after noon and learn how to share a table (and food) in a beer garden with your neighbours: This is a crash course on becoming a real Bavarian.
The Bavarian dialect is fading away, with mainly elderly locals able to speak it, but citizens of Munich use Bavarian words in their daily interactions – and more often than they think.
It is no surprise that Bavaria takes pride in its culture, traditions and language. And yet much of its dialect stems from Latin and French, with the use of words like ‘Servus’ and ‘Vis-a-vis’. In fact, surprisingly, visitors from neighbouring parts of Germany have difficulties understanding native Bavarians. And beware: It can get even more problematic in the outlying areas around Munich, which sometimes feels like a whole different country.
But don’t let this intimidate you. Bavarians are lovely, hospitable people – especially when you show knowledge of some of their phrases. This is your Bavarian crash course:
Let’s begin with a form of greeting. The term “Servus” (a Latin word which translates to slave or servant) can be used for both hello and goodbye. Back in the days of the royal Bavarian courts, it was befitting to use this salutation – a way of saying “at your service.
Locals love their traditions, such as eating Weißwurst, a cooked veal sausage with parsley, in the morning. Paired with sweet mustard, pretzel and Weißbier (wheat beer), Weißwurst is the typical Bavarian breakfast – but only order it before noon, not after, or you’ll come across as a tourist.
How to behave at beer gardens
A beer garden is not only a place to sit and enjoy beer and food – it is a place of hospitality, and cultural exchange, it can be an outdoor office for adults or a playground for kids. And there is a wide variety to choose from in Germany.
Self-service is very common in beer gardens. Order “a Mass Hells” (one litre of lager) or “zwoa Mass Hells” if you’re with a friend. If you are hungry, try the typical beer garden food options such as “Wustsalat” (salad with sausage slices and onions), “Brezn” (pretzel), “Radi” (salted radish), “a halls hendl” (half grilled chicken), and “Obadza” (cottage cheese mixed with camembert, caraway seeds and paprika powder).
Scan the area for a place to sit. Beer gardens can be overcrowded in summer, but that’s not a problem at all as people will make room for you when you ask – just thank them and say ‘Merci.” Your new neighbours might even share their food with you – but don’t worry, no offense will be taken if you decline. By now, the conversation will get started – don’t be shy, the ice is broken rather quickly.
Last but not least, is the one and only rule valid in all of Bavaria: Never sit at a “Stammtisch” (A regular’s table). Members who have held these seats for over ten years could get very upset.