It’s everyone’s instinct to say Hello or Hi to try to interact with others. But how to say it?Whether you are just a visiting tourist, paying visits to relatives or an Expat trying to fit in,these welcome greetings are great revelations of their culture.
I’m a new Expat here in Bavaria, and sure thing, from the first day, I faced the dilemma of how do I greet someone , either out of politeness or being friendly. Living in the Middle East for 8 years, I am used to greeting people with ‘Salam’ almost all the time and that’s it. Aren’t Germans cold, reserve and not-so-friendly, top of it that they seldom initiate a small talk? Absolutely not!
One morning while walking around our neighborhood,I was greeted by a man working on his garden in a rather friendly voice “Servus!”Of course I looked back at him and I replied in my timid voice “Hello!”Sure thing He knows that I’m a foreigner because I don’t look like German. A bit further, some cyclist passed ahead of me and said “ Grüss Gott!” While entering grocery shops, I was greeted by fellow shoppers “Grüss Gott!” and while checking out, the cashier repeated these phrase once again. Slowly it sinked into me, Welcome to Bavarian hospitality.
So how does anyone say Hello in Bavaria? Although Germans have a universal way of Saying “Hallo” as greetings, Here in Bavaria, it’s different.Don’t ask me why, they are just different.
Here are typical Bavarian greeting to know and when to use it on appropriate situations.
Grüss Gott: Knowing that Bavaria is a rather conservative region compared to other parts of Germany, you will hear these words more often as you walked into the streets or just doing errands and close encounters with locals. Grüss Gott is the favourite of catholic housewives aged 40 and above, of which there are many in Bavaria. Very formal. Use it when greeting people you don’t know, or ones that you are meeting for the first time, such as your new landlord or boss. Laughed at by northern Germans, who don’t seem to like Bavarians very much. That feeling is mutual.
Servus: Say it to friends – or to someone you don’t know at your own peril. Informal. Servus is most often used between people who know each other well enough to say “Du” to each other. Servus is also widely used in Austria.
Hallo: This is the German way of saying hello. Don’t force your slang English way or American accent , just say it the Germans way. Therefore, it is not strictly Bavarian. Bavarians don’t really do German. If you really want to be one of the locals, then see above.
I noticed that Bavarians seldom say Guten Tag (good day) in Bavaria too. Instead they just shout from their lungs “Morgen” ( Morning) or ” Schön Tag” ( Nice day !)
If you say Hi, you will just be greeted back with blank stare since this is the quickest way to annoy Germans. I’m not kidding, only foreigners used this word.
As I told you, it’s different here in Bavaria. 🙂
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