Wednesday, 12 August 2009
Bavarian families- the secret to happy old men
Yesterday, I had a parallel experience in Munich, Bavaria to one I'd had in Hadlow, Kent last week. I went to the Botanic Gardens which are said to be the 'Wisley' of Germany, with a long history and 14,000 species of plant. The 'Secret Garden' at Hadlow College could not compete with this, but that didn't matter, since I was 'people watching' and not 'plant watching'.
My observations confirmed that, in Southern Germany at least, three generations of family do things together. I surmise that this keeps the Bavarian old folk integrated and helps to give them a meaningful existence.
Why do I say this ?
When I visited Hadlow Garden and restaurant in the morning and afternoon, I saw middle-aged and elderly couples and groups of 3 or 4 of the same age. I can't recall seeing many people younger than this or any young children at all. The German Botanical Garden and restuarant was different. Grandparents strolled with daughter or daughter-in-law and young children - 3 generations engaging the gardens together.
One group of 3 women had us debating. I said it was " great grandmother, grandmother and granddaughter". My wife and brother-in-law disagreed, saying that the youngest was only 16 years old and therefore it was daughter, mother and grandmother.
It didn't really matter. The point was that the 3 generations were enjoying the gardens and each other's company together.
I think that it is the Bavarian sense and expression of family ties which go some way to explain why, in this part of the country at least, German men and women live long and no doubt largely happy lives, in their fading days.