Travel, Teach, Live in Europe and Middle East
If you are living or visiting Germany, there might be times when you are invited to stay in a German family's home. Because most German families tend to socialize with casual friends or business associates in restaurants or cafes instead of in the home, it should be considered an honor if you are invited into a German home. As such, it can be helpful to understand some of the German family customs, so that you can be respectful and understanding.
Head of the Household
In most German families, the father is considered to be the head of the household. Especially in eastern Germany, it is common for both parents to work. Even in rural areas of Germany, larger families are not commonplace. In most cases, you'll find most married couples only have one or possibly two children. Responsibility and order have always been traditional German family values. However, in today's modern world, you'll tend to find a wider variety of family lifestyles, especially in western Germany. In most cases you'll find that older children, once they start attending a university or become employed, choose to move out of their parent's home. It's common for young Germans to remain single until they reach their late twenties. It's also quite common for couples to live together before they get married, or to simply choose to live together instead of getting married.
Meals in Germany
Food is often considered to be a very important part of German life. The people of Germany are quite fond of food, and eating is considered to be a pleasurable and even entertaining experience. If you happen to have breakfast in a German household, you should expect it to be rather light. In many cases, children are served oat porridge or rice with cinnamon and raisins. Older family members tend to prefer a light breakfast of coffee served with rolls or bread, which is served with preserves and butter.
However, don't let this light breakfast fool you, since many Germans also like eating a "second" breakfast later in the morning. This second meal tends to be a bit heartier, often consisting of meat or cheese sandwiches or sausages.
Lunch is usually the most substantial meal of the day. Whenever possible, families like to enjoy eating lunch together. Hearty soups, meats and vegetables and a dessert are common lunchtime dishes. In the afternoon, many people like to enjoy a sweet snack along with coffee, to help tide them over until the later supper meal. Supper is generally a lighter meal, served around 7:30 in the evening.
Entertaining in the Home
German families usually only entertain family members, close friends, and the friends of their children in the home. Punctual arrival is expected, and a flower bouquet for the hostess is always a nice and appreciated gesture. Handshaking and even hand kissing are part of the expected German etiquette. When family members or close friends are invited for lunch or dinner, German families usually take the opportunity to bring out their best china and table linens. Special family events such as an engagement are often the reason for home dinner parties in Germany.