Just don’t vacuum in Germany

Every culture has its quirks. In America there is a lot of attention paid to the first and second amendment. These allow for free speech as well as the right to own guns. From looking at the various newspaper articles that pop up near every election (or after a large mass shooting) you would think that owning a gun is the most important right a person can have.

In Greece children’s teeth are not picked up by the tooth fairy but instead are tossed on top of the roof of their house. The ideas behind this custom is to bring good luck and a healthy replacement tooth.

Another odd custom, in my opinion, is “La Tomatina Festival” that is held in Buñol Spain. Every year, on the last Wednesday in August this festival takes place. I have read a number of different explanations of the history of how this began but the net result is that this is a food fight. Specifically this is with tomatoes.

Germany’s quirks are actually less dramatic than in some other countries but they can have a tendency to be a bit suffocating. I was reminded of this today when my son and I were doing a bit of crafts. Ok, ok, crafts might be slightly minimizing our efforts. We were in the middle of a multi day process of building a work bench for the garage (only a few hours a day).

The only power-tool that we currently own is a drill so most of our work is taking place with hand-tools. I guess we are not very efficient, or perhaps need more power-tools, as for the first two hours we only made about 4 cuts and the rest of the time was spent painstakingly adjusting these leg supports into the proper position, drilling a hole, and hand screwing the 5 inch screws into place. I know it was two hours because my helper pointed out that we were only half done.

Once we were finished we realized we needed a few tiny blocks to make sure that everything was steady. My son and I split up and started our work only to learn that there are rules in Germany about doing such activities. My bad, we were doing this on a Sunday in the afternoon.

I had just cut myself with the saw when I received a phone call. There is no point in going through the specifics. The net result was one of our neighbors thought we were making too much noise and so they called my wife. My neighbors had been googling the internet to locate the rules for what kinds and how much noise you can make on a Sunday.

I don’t have a comprehensive list of German rules but this is the one that came up today.


If you don’t read German than this article will be a bit much. The summary for this is as follows. You can drill, pound or hammer but only if the noise level is not to loud. This also includes building furniture or longer vacuuming sessions. The idea is that there should be some sort of quiet time on Sunday to allow you to regather your strength from the working week.

So, I am on the phone with my wife bleeding as she is explaining that the neighbor will be getting a lawyer to sue us over this particular infraction. I guess a simpler first move might have been for my neighbor to have stopped by and explained that they find all of this hand sawing a bit much and could we take a break or stop all together.

I was also rather surprised by who had called us on such an obnoxious behavior on a Sunday. It wasn’t my mother-in-law, nor an octogenarian who lives nearby but actually a neighbor that is just into her forties.

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1 Response to Just don’t vacuum in Germany

  1. Kitty Green says:

    Good story, Chris!

    I’m glad you now have a blog – good for you!
    I will sign up for sure. Thanks again for including me.

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