How is Bavaria Different From Germany?
Have you ever sat down and wondered about Germany? Anyone? Maybe just me then. But, I am sure that you have thought a lot about other countries. Hopefully you have–otherwise why would you be on a site about travel??
I think about other countries all the time and Bavaria is one such place that has interested me for a long time. Is it just another name for Germany? Another name for the country? Does it belong to Germany or is it a little different?
Just How Is Bavaria Different Than Germany?
I decided to find out more details.
So, when it comes to Germany and Bavaria, are they actually the same thing, or are they in a situation like Scotland and the UK or Quebec and Canada? It took me a while to pin down exactly what Bavaria was, but in the end, I answered my own questions, and I am here to share my findings with you.
So, What is the Difference Between Germany and Bavaria?
The difference between Bavaria and Germany is that Bavaria is a German state. Bavaria is contained inside of Germany, much like Quebec is contained inside of Canada, and as such, it does share some similarities with Scotland. It is part of something a bit bigger, but it is also separate at the same time.
Does that make sense?
I want to expand on this a bit more, but to truly understand what Bavaria is, we have to make like Doc Brown or Marty McFly and go back in time. However, instead of Hill Valley, USA in 1955, our destination is Ancient Europe.
What’s the Brief History of Bavaria?
If you go back far enough, most places in the world are a melting pot of people, invasions, borders, immigration, wars, more people, and changes. It is hard to pin down the exact birth of Bavaria without going into dates, names, and long boring explanations of land claims, but here is my simplified version.
Suffice to say, the Bavarians were first mentioned in 520 AD. That is a long time ago. Around 550 AD, a duke was put in charge. The first set of laws for Bavaria were set around 740 AD. Don’t worry; I am almost done with the dates. For years, Bavaria was led by dukes, kings, and counts. The borders of Bavaria also changed over the years.
After the Second World War, state elections were held. 180 delegates were chosen, and they drafted a new Bavarian constitution. Bavaria is now a state within Germany, also known as the Free State of Bavaria. It is completely landlocked, occupying the southeast corner of Germany. Bavaria’s capital is Munich (the third-largest city in Germany).
What is the Relationship Between Bavaria and Germany?
For the most part, Germany and Bavaria work together hand in hand. There are many states in Germany, and Bavaria is one of them. The other German states use the title ‘State of’ while Bavaria uses ‘Free State of.’ Germany does not distinguish between the two, so this title only differs in the words used.
You can think of Bavaria a little like the states in America or the provinces in Canada. Each block of land is a standalone jurisdiction, but they are also part of a country as a whole. If they were completely separate from each other, they could survive as countries in their own right, but we are better together, right?
While Bavaria is a part of Germany, there are a lot of differences in the people, religion, and culture. Bavaria has a considerably higher Roman Catholic representation than the rest of Germany, where the split is more even between Roman Catholics and Protestants. Bavaria also has a population of around 12.5 million.
If you were to talk to anyone from Bavaria (I have not yet, but I hope to someday), you would likely find that they call themselves Bavarian first and German second. On the whole, the people are happy to be part of Germany, but they do still see themselves as distinctly different.
What is Bavarian Culture Like?
From my research, I found one key detail. When it comes to separating Bavaria from Germany (metaphorically speaking and not literally), it is the culture that stands them apart. When the rest of the world imagines lederhosen, large brass instruments, and massive glasses of beer, they may link these images to Germany, but they are actually part of Bavarian culture.
Bavarians love their traditions. Many people around the world love traditions, but Bavarians showcase their traditions with particular zeal. The lederhosen, which you are probably picturing in your mind, are collectively known as Tracht. Of all the Germanic dress, Bavarian Tracht is the most distinctive. The lederhosen for the men, the dirndls for the ladies, the green wool jackets with the silver buttons, and the conical hats are all part of Bavarian Tracht.
The key point, though, is that Bavarians wear this dress to look German. It just so happens that Bavarian Tracht is the most distinctive of all Germanic dress. Many other places in Germany have distinctive dress which is worn in celebration, but it is in Bavaria where that dress really comes to life. Combine that with October fest, and you see why a lot of people see Bavarian culture as German culture.
What is Traditional Bavarian Food and Drink Like?
Bavarians love food and drink; it is interwoven into their culture. Of course, it is interwoven into German culture too, but because Bavarians do it bigger (and some would argue better), the world has come to see the Bavarian representation of food and drink as the German representation of food and drink.
When you think about Germany and food, you probably think about sausage. The German people love sausage, and if you have ever tasted authentic German sausage, then you will too. In Bavaria however, they always seem to take it a step further; there are many items of food and drink which are unusual in Germany at large.
Germany loves sausages, but I would venture to say that Bavaria loves them even more. In Bavaria, you may find a Weisswurst (a sausage made from veal, pork, parsley, lemon, mace, onions, ginger, and cardamom) or sausages made from entrails. You will also find your beer served in a traditional Mas (a 1-liter glass).
When it comes to beer, the Reinheitsgbot (the beer purity law) was established in Bavaria in 1487 and became German law in 1906. This law states that beer can only have three ingredients: water, barley, and hops. While the European Union disagrees with this law, Germany continues to brew all its beer to these guidelines, making their beer distinct from most European beers.
When it comes to a party, Germany and Bavaria share the same love for music. You will find many beer or folk festivals across the country, with the two mixing often. Octoberfest is one of the biggest beer festivals in the world. It is held each year in Munich. Munich may be a lot smaller than the capital city, Berlin, but it is easy to see why most people see Bavarian culture as Germanic culture when you discover how many more flights land in Munich than they do Berlin. People are drawn to Bavaria.
What Are Bavarian People Like?
Many people see German people as reserved, stoic, un-humorous, and serious. While this sweeping generalization is untrue, there is something in this when you compare Germany to Bavaria. The people of Germany are wonderful people, just as most people around the world are when you get to know them.
The main difference between Germans and Bavarians is their sociability. Have a German hold a party, or a German city hold a party, and you will have a great party, but have a Bavarian hold one, or a Bavarian city, and they go above and beyond (see Octoberfest).
Bavarians consider themselves more sociable than Germany as a whole. They love to host a party and love to see people visit them and their culture. Octoberfest in Munich welcomes 6 million people every year. Traditional beer gardens are all over the region. People come from all around, bringing their own food, and drinking the local beer.
Bavarians can be classified as searching for equality. They want equality for all. They also have a sense of nostalgia. They love their rich history and cling to that as they move forward. Where many modern German cities and towns will be completely different from anything which has come before, many new Bavarian towns will be modeled after towns and villages of the past. Many modern towns are built around Bavarian themes.
Wrapping It Up: My Summary of Bavaria
I really want to visit Bavaria. I always wanted to, but I just never knew it. I had heard about Octoberfest and seen the pictures online of people wearing lederhosen and grasping large glasses of beer and thought that is a place I want to go. When I thought that, I was thinking about Germany. Whenever I heard the name Bavaria, I always pictured old Germany (if that makes sense).
Now I know that I want to visit the two. I want to visit Germany, and specifically Bavaria.
Bavaria and Germany really are distinct places, but to be Bavarian always means that you are German. I personally feel that it is unfortunate for the rest of Germany that it cannot be the other way around! German people as a whole are welcoming, traditional, and love to throw a party. Bavarian people are German, but they go to extremes. They are everything that any German is, but they take that extra step. Much like Texas is to America, everything in Bavaria is bigger (in spirit not necessarily size).
I hope that you have enjoyed our journey together. There was so much that I did not know about Bavaria, and now there is so much that you did not know, but you do now!