Some customs in Germany may appear strange to anyone who is not familiar with them.
Most would know that on the first day of April a family member, friend or colleague will play a trick on them. But why might a man sweep away straw on the steps of city hall? Some such customs share hundred of years of tradition and many Germans either do not know them or from where they originate.
Tradition is the written or verbal passing on of customs, capabilities and also knowledge. These can be scientific and also concern fairy tales, myths, religions or crafts. They are passed on through groups or between the generations. They help define cultures and societies. They help form their heritage.
Steps and doorknobs
Sweeping straw from steps (Treppenfegen) is a witty tradition for men to celebrate a birthday, while cleaning doorknobs (Klinkenputzen) is for women when they become thirty and are not yet married. They are released from this task only if a virgin or young servant kisses them.
Another custom exists for twenty-fifth birthdays upon which women receive a wreath of cartons and men a wreath from old socks hung on the door.