- Culture & Society
DIY Culture in Germany
11 Dec 2021
A special feature of the German mentality is the willingness to do many things yourself. You’ll find DIY culture (Do-it-yourself) everywhere in Germany. Whether plastering a wall yourself, tending the garden yourself or making gifts yourself. A certain perfectionism, the joy of creating something and thriftiness are among the drivers of this DIY mentality.
From an early age, children are encouraged to express their creativity through handicrafts (verb in German: basteln). In kindergarten, there is almost constant crafting - from printing with potatoes, forming figures with plasticine, cutting out stars and flowers for the windows, laying pictures with objects, to the obligatory self-designed cards for Mother's Day, Christmas or grandpa's birthday.
This love for handicrafts carries on into adult life. Popular hobbies include knitting, crocheting, embroidery, sewing, pottery, painting ceramics, candle making and much more. Especially before Christmas, handicrafts often become gifts. And who is not happy about a self-knitted sweater or a self-made pottery cup? The dark and cold days are perfect for knitting socks in front of the TV or pottering about on gifts in a round with other craft enthusiasts.
However, the DIY culture goes far beyond handicrafts. Crafting is also deeply anchored in the German mentality. In every household there is at least a small toolbox to carry out simple repairs oneself. Professional craftsmen are usually only called in when the problem is too complicated to solve by oneself. Germans also occasionally resort to Jugaad, but usually the solutions are very professional, as the necessary accessories are available in hardware stores (German: Baumarkt) and a certain level of perfection is strived for.
Hardware stores are an important place for many Germans to buy appliances, tools, paint, wallpaper, wood, metal, nails, screws, light bulbs and even plants. The hardware store concept is based on getting everything for DIY and not having to go to individual shops. In 2020, hardware stores in Germany were particularly busy as people were more at home due to the pandemic and looking for projects to do in their own homes to combat boredom. Of course, German also has its own word for those who lend a hand in their own homes: Heimwerker as opposed to Handwerker, who are professional craftsmen.
Heimwerker in Germany not only paint the walls and put up shelves themselves, but many also dare to tackle big tasks like sanding down floorboards or laying tiles. Some even go so far as to do as much as possible themselves when building their own house, as craftsmen are very expensive compared to India. Many also take care of the garden themselves with great care and perseverance.
Services that make everyday life much easier in India are often taken up by the people themselves in Germany. For example, very few people have a maid, let alone a cook. Many Germans prefer to do tailoring or other kinds of repairs themselves or ask friends and relatives for help.
A phenomenon that is also becoming increasingly popular among Germans is upcycling. It is a sustainable strategy to create new value from old things. Furniture is spruced up, clothes are sewn over and old things are given a new function. The DIY culture makes you creative and knows no boundaries.
If you are new to Germany, you will quickly recognise this mentality. You may miss the convenience of a service for the smallest things. But new horizons will open up and taking things into your own hands can have a very empowering effect. And if you have never held a hammer in your hand, don't worry, "practice makes perfect"! (“Übung macht den Meister!”)
If you have any more questions about the DIY culture in Germany write to us in the comments below or at [email protected]!
Written by: Tanja Holbe
Cover Photo: Vladimir Proskurovskiy - Unsplash
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