Wednesday, September 13, 2006

"Greetings to God!"

Oh no, don't worry: I haven't suddenly come to believe in an omnipresent omnipotent creator. Rather, I was referring to a typically Austrian (and Southern German) greeting, "Gruß Gott!" (note: the "ß" is pronounced like "ss"), which means "Greetings to God". So instead of saying hello to you, they greet God.
Not only do I find this hilarious, but being an atheist I also find it uncomfortable (or should I say I find it kinda dishonest?) to utter this greeting. I stick to "hallo" or a "Guten Tag" (Good day!).
I have been told (or did I read it somewhere?) that when some northern Germans visit the southern Germany they jokingly retort "Ich grüße ihn wenn ich ihn treffe!" that is, "I will greet Him if I meet Him" in response to such a greeting. Of course, I doubt the northern Germans would dare to try this on Austrians... the latter seem to dislike the Germans anyway, and call them (rather derogatorily) "Piefke".
I am always tempted to use this joke as well, and on the rare occasion, I do use it on German or Austrian friends when they say "Gruß Gott" to me. Strangely most people don't know this joke, and it takes a while for them to understand it.
The expression on the recipient's face when the joke dawns, is worth photographing.

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