OK, now, this is when Germany gets really fun. Starting on June 11 and lasting until July 11, the world revolved around the World Cup Soccer (Football) Championship held in South Africa. Every day, every cafe had extra tables and televisions parked outside for every match. All eyes were glued to the matches and at the same time enjoying drinks and a meal with friends. It was an obsession. Even cars driving by would slow down to catch a look at a match and see the score. In the beginning there were 3 matches a day so the festivities seem to continue non-stop. I’m happy to say I got out as much as possible for this. Of course one can watch at home, but there is nothing like enjoying beautiful German summer days among good friends, food, drinks, and enthusiastic fans. When Germany won their quarterfinal match against Argentina, we were in Frankfurt and watched fans flood the streets in unprecedented abandon. You see, the last few generations of Germans have been quite reluctant to wave the flag or appear, in any way, blindly loyal to nationalism. During the last World Cup, four years ago, flag-waving resurfaced among the masses which concerned many. Is it just proud patriotism or the first phase toward goose-stepping nationalism? Whatever the debate, Germans in general seem even more comfortable displaying their colors this World Cup and I think it’s long overdue. They have paid for their sins and rebuilt themselves into a prosperous, fully engaged democracy. There are still some uncomfortable Germanic traits in my opinion–and they deserve a little humility for that– but the devils are long gone.
So, the days and weeks go by and I grow accustomed to flags posted on cars, painted on faces, and displayed everywhere else you can imagine. Fireworks crackled, Vuvuzuelas (those annoying horns) honked regularly and, in some moment of magnanimous stupidity, I bought one horn each for Nora and Jack. The enthusiasm was everywhere and even Jack came home from German Kindergarten twice with German flags painted on his cheeks. We only got alarmed though when he came home one day and started singing Deutschland Über Alles, or Germany Overall, which is their national anthem. Fortunately, July 4, Independence Day arrived shortly after that. I put out our Stars and Stripes early in the morning. It was then I confirmed a suspicion. German homes do not have flag posts–something every American home has. I had to rig the flag with some layers of masking tape so it could hang over our garage.
By the way, World Cup is such as huge industry besides the overpriced fan jerseys. There are quite a few official songs that were recorded for this championship. I only know two of those songs and one is by Shakira and, unfortunately, it sounds like she just phoned it in. The better one, by far, is called “Wavin’ Flag” by K’naan.
One last thing for those of you who weren’t paying attention/didn’t care (I used to be one of those), America made it to the round of 16 and was defeated by Ghana 1:2. Germany made it to the semifinals and was defeated by Spain 0:1. Spain won the World Cup in overtime against the Netherlands 1:0.