The motto of Bayern Munich, the richest football club in Europe, is ‘mia san mia’, which means ‘we are who we are’, with the larger implication being ‘we’re better than you’. The feeling is particularly mutual in the industrial Ruhrpott in the north and in Berlin (the source of Germany’s 19th-century Prussian overlords). Upon hearing things like, ‘All things in bad taste come from Bavaria’, Bavarians will hurl, ‘Sauprauis!’ (‘Shit Prussian!’) in return. In much of the US, the sentiment is the same.
In Bavaria, clothes really do make the man. Texas has its iconic cowboy kit with leather chaps, denim and ten-gallon hat; Bavaria uses leather differently – to make shorts. Hard-wearing, long-lasting and a good use for all the spare cowhide they have up in there, lederhosen have become iconic German dress much in the same way as Western dress and culture is shorthand for the rugged American man. It doesn’t seem to matter that no one outside of Bavaria (more than 80% of Germany’s population) wouldn’t be caught dead in them.
Texans’ drawl is instantly recognisable: not quite as folky and provincial as Tennessee, and less ‘marbles-in-the-mouth’ than Alabama or Georgia. For native German speakers, the Bavarian dialect is also easily identifiable; while dialects differ all over Germany, few areas use theirs so often in day-to-day life as Bavarians.
Part of the reason Texas and Bavaria are so confident in their own existence is that they were both powerful countries of their own before submitting to the larger union. Many in both places playfully threaten to secede, and an equal number of citizens in other parts of the country wish they would. Similar to Texas, Bavarian politicians are known to be quite conservative, and the CSU (their political party) holds outside power in parliament as compared to the state’s population.
In Texas, approximately two-thirds of the population lives outside the 10 biggest cities. Likewise, the 10th largest city in Bavaria has only 70,000 people, and 75% of the population lives in places smaller than that. Plus, both Texas and Bavaria have cattle, and where there are cattle, there are cattle drives – though in Texas, there isn’t a lot of dressing the animals up with bells and flowers. A pity.
Even more convoluted, Texas actually has a large ethnic German population that, until the 1950s, spoke German in daily life. As of 2015, there are still 82,000 German-speakers in Texas.
As for the number of cowboys in Bavaria – does oxen-racing count?