German in Germany

Greetings and Partings

Two people shaking hands

In recent years young people have become more demonstrative; however, the handshake is still the more common gesture used in formal and informal greetings and partings. As for verbal greetings, “Guten Tag” is more formal than “hallo”, and is used when greeting elders but never between young friends. “Auf Wiedersehen” is more formal than “Tschüß,” which is, in turn, more formal than “ciao.” In many parts of southern Germany, “Grüss Gott” is used instead of “Guten Tag.” When young people meet on the street, it is not common for quick introductions to be made. If that same group were to go sit in a café, those unknown to one another would introduce themselves.

It is not necessary to shake the hand of each person in a large group person unless one is in a very formal business meeting. Among the older generations, when leaving a large gathering where everyone is still seated, one can knock on the table three times and say goodbye.