20 February 2017

The German Public Voice

A few months ago, I wrote about how Germans have the concept of a private voice. This is the voice that they use whenever they are in public, and silence is golden. Talking is more or less verboten among strangers, and talking within acquaintances is kept to a minimum when you are in public, and definitely in a low volume. Thus, you rarely see public drama: in public, children are rarely disciplined loudly by their parents, and lovers rarely shout at each other. This all changes when it is the New Year, somehow.

Last month, I was in a New Year's Eve Party. It was in a different neighborhood, and we had to cross the city to get there. We spent hours chatting, and when midnight struck, we went out and set some fireworks. Then people were also out, and random strangers would wish you Happy New Year. Not even that, random strangers would tell you random things. Partly sometimes it is because they are drunk. But also partly because somehow the private voice is on vacation.

We were packing the car to go home that night, and there were random strangers who simply asked about the stuffed toys that were lying on the back of the car. Sometimes random strangers would also give you a hug. It is totally different from when it is not New Year's Eve, when everyone pretty much keeps to oneself.

I wonder why that is the case. Personally, I don't see a big deal with New Year's Day. After all, it happens every year, right?

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