Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"Grüß Gott!" (Greet God!)

The Bavarian/Austrian phrase "Grüß Gott!" is as common in Munich as beer and schnitzel. You hear it everywhere, without thinking of its religious undertones. This saying originated in Catholic parts of Bavaria and Austria by priests in the 19th century, and has long been the most common greeting. With more than half the population Catholic in Bavaria, you can understand why the phrase became meainstream. It’s actually a shortened version of Grüße euch Gott (may God greet you). You see these types of salutations in many languages, and often their religious origin is even more apparent, such as in French adieu, Spanish adiós, Italian addio and Portuguese adeus – all translating as “to God.” But don’t take what works in Bavaria as working in the rest of Germany. If you say "Grüß Gott!" in Cologne, Berlin or Hamburg, you may get a response of "Wenn ich ihn sehe" (when I see him) or "Hoffentlich nicht so bald" (hopefully not too soon). (Photo taken at Freimann cemetary in Schwabing)

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