When I traveled to the United States for the first time ever, a year and a half ago, I thought that I have never seen a country more obsessed with its national flag. Everywhere you threw your glance, it was almost impossible to find a view that didn’t include the star-spangled in all it glory: printed on clothing items, displayed on various paraphernalia or just waving proudly from rooftops, cars or front lawns.
And then I got to see Germany during the World Cup.
Germany is – for well known reasons – extremely sensitive towards anything that has to do with patriotism or national pride. Even the German Unity Day (Tag der Deutschen Einheit) celebrations are unusually understated in comparison to other independence days around the world. Displays of the black-red-golden banner are treated with high suspicion, and usually place the displayer(s) in the far-right corner.
With two exceptions: The Eurovision and soccer.
International contests seem to provide Germans with the relief of finally being unapologetically proud of their country. And much like with teenagers who went to single-sex religious schools, once they get a taste of freedom – all barriers are gone (no, we are not going to discuss my education now).
One expects the usual soccer merchandise
It’s even understandable
And the cheap flag-colored toys make sense
as do the special cosmetics editions
Even the jewelry is understandable – for teenies
and for grown-ups alike
Sometimes it’s even cute
But then it starts to get a bit too much
and send unfortunate implications
Eventually , it crosses over into the realms of the exaggerated
and the bizzare
There’s even a hashtag for this now: #SinnlosesWM2014Gedöns (#senslessWorldCup2014stuff)
Do look it up
The fun never ends!!
This is not to say that German society is not split over this. Leftist Germans tend to swing between incomprehension of the whole whoo-ha and outright contempt for anything and anyone displaying the national tricolor. The place I’m currently typing this in, a lefty/queer café in Neukölln, Berlin, hung out a sign at the entrance saying “No black-red-gold in here!”. Further down the street, someone hung out a flag that covers their whole balcony.
Happy World Cup, everybody!