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We have started collecting information about the Alpine German-Speaking mission and there is more to come! If you served in this mission and are willing to share you experiences, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Snapshot of Germany
The official language of Germany is German. Besides ethnic Germans, there are many migrant groups present in the country, such as Turks and Poles. Germany has become an increasingly irreligious country, especially in the eastern portion of the country that was once part of the Soviet Union. About half of Germany’s population identifies itself as Christian, this population is primarily split between the Roman Catholic church and various Protestant denominations. Germany has a rich history of classical composers, writers, and philosophers. In modern times, rock, hip hop, metal, and electronic music are all quite popular, with both German and international artists receiving radio play. Other aspects of German culture and history are preserved in museums and theater. Soccer is Germany’s most popular sport, with the national team having won the World Cup three times. Motor sports such as Formula One racing are also quite popular.
Snapshot of Austria
German is the official language of Austria. About a quarter of the population lives in the capital city Vienna. A little over 60% of Austria’s population belongs to the Roman Catholic church, though a significantly smaller percentage attend church on a weekly basis. About 6% of the population is Muslim, mostly immigrants from Turkey or the former Yugoslavia. Like many other European nations, irreligion has been rising in recent years in Austria, though Roman Catholic influence can still be seen in cathedrals and other forms of architecture. Austrian culture is similar to that of Germany in many ways, as it was a part of the German Confederation until the mid 1800s. Austria was home to many classical composers, writers, scientists, and philosophers. Skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports are quite popular in Austria thanks to its mountainous terrain. Soccer, ice hockey, and motor racing are also popular.
Snapshot of Switzerland
Switzerland has four official languages – German, French, Italian, and Romansh. While German is the most-spoken language in the country, the western region primarily speaks French, and certain southern areas are dominated by the Italian language. Switzerland has become a more urban country, with lots of urban sprawl. The two largest religious denominations in Switzerland are the Roman Catholic Church (about 38% of the population) and the Swiss Reformed Church (about 30% of the population). About 20% of Swiss citizens have no religious affiliation, and the rest of the population is divided mostly between Islam and other Christian groups. Switzerland’s culture has been primarily influenced by Germany, France, and Italy. The mountainous terrain has made skiing, hiking, and mountain biking popular parts of Swiss culture. As such, skiing, snowboarding, and mountaineering are some of Switzerland’s most popular sports, though soccer and ice hockey are also popular. Traditional folk music, some of which involves yodeling and traditional instruments such as the alphorn, still enjoys some popularity as well.
Snapshot of Liechtenstein
German is the official language of the tiny country of Liechtenstein, though many people speak a unique German dialect known as Alemannic. The Roman Catholic Church is the dominant religion of Liechtenstein, though there are also smaller Protestant and Islamic minorities. However, very few people attend church on a weekly basis (only about 23% of Christians). The culture of Liechtenstein is largely influenced by southern Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Music and theater are both important in Liechtenstein, and the country hosts several music festivals each year. Downhill skiing and other winter sports are quite popular, though soccer is also a popular sport.
The Alpine States Mission covers four distinct countries (Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Liechtenstein) with unique histories. Membership is scattered throughout the mission boundaries, and as usual is more concentrated in urban areas.
While similar foods can be found across each of the countries of the Alpine States Mission, each has its unique attributes as well, highlighted here:
Germany. Meals in Germany are usually quite large with heavy emphasis on meat and bread. Even breakfast includes a large spread of breads, cold cut meats, and cheese. Pork, especially in sausage form such as Bratwurst, is the most popular type of meat. Other popular dishes include wiener schnitzel, a breaded, fried meat, as well as potatoes and thick noodles. Cakes and tarts are popular dessert and snack items. There are also several unique foods found in different regions of the country, such as Bavarian pretzels in the south. Other foods from minority groups, such as Turkish Doner Kebabs and Falafel are also quite popular, especially in the form of fast food. Carbonated water is usually preferred over regular non-carbonated water. Quite often, if you want to get non-carbonated water you must ask for it specifically – otherwise, you’ll get carbonated water! Germany is also one of the world’s largest consumers of beer.
Austria. Wiener schnitzel, sausages, and vanillerostbraten (a beef and potatoes dish served with garlic, onions, and other herbs and spices) are popular dishes. During the fall hunting season, many types of wild game, such as deer, boar, and pheasant, are eaten. Several types of pastries, strudels, and cakes are also popular, especially in Viennese cuisine. Coffee houses are also quite popular, especially in Vienna.
Switzerland. Switzerland is famous for its cheese (including cheese dishes such as fondue and raclette) and chocolate. Other typical Swiss dishes include rosti, a fried potato dish often served with meat, cheese, or apple. Various types of tarts, quiches, sausages. and breads are also common parts of Swiss meals.
Liechtenstein. Cheese and soup play an important role in meals in Liechtenstein. Potatoes and cabbage are commonly used in cooking, and German-influenced dishes such as Schnitzel and sausages are also prevalent.
Clothing for the rain and cold. Really warm coats, scarves, boots, and other winter weather accessories.
Straight from the Alpine German-Speaking Mission:
*What items were hard to get or not available?
“We could get nearly everything, but when we wanted to make a thanksgiving meal, we couldn’t find cranberries or turkey.”
“Root Beer and slurpies”
“I don’t remember missing anything”
*What did you eat the most of?
“In Switzerland, we ate amazing salads at nearly every meal. Lots different breads, but zopf was the favorite. Cheese, of course, although we ate fondue rarely, but more often were treated to raclette (melted cheese served over steamed potatoes and pineapple, then sprinkled with paprika). And chocolate. LOTS of chocolate.”
“Bread and Cheese.”
“Bread, soups and German pasta (spätzle).”
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“The only crazy things we were served were things prepared, so thoughtfully, by African refugees in their refugee homes. I never asked what the meat was. I just ate it.”
“Gaggies = some crazy american chocolate goo.”
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“They go shopping for food every day. The bread goes bad after one day but is amazing!”
“I am not American, but wasn’t prepared for the resentment many Germans had for Americans, or for how fresh WW II was in their minds.”
*What advice would you give to someone going to the Alpine German-Speaking Mission?
“Be patient with the people. They are closed minded but once they accept you as a friend they will always be your friend.”
“Read up on history, old rulers, customs etc. Be open to new foods and don’t think America is the only civilized country in the World.”
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“More German 🙂 But seriously, a greater understanding of the gospel.”
“More about the history of the different cities I served in, and the history of the country.”
“Love the German people for they are worth loving!”