Germans love flowers. When invited to their home, flowers are an appropriate gift. There are customs regarding the color and the number of flowers to bring. Impress your host by following the rules.
An invitation to a German home is an honor. Wine or flowers are the best gifts. Let’s go with flowers. There are plenty of florists in Germany. They are called Blumenhändlers.
Be aware of the shop hours. Up until 2004 the German government tightly managed retail hours until handing them over to the states. Florists will generally be open until 18:00 to 19:00, 6 to 7PM. The exception is Thursday night, when retailers offer later hours, and Sunday, when the majority of businesses are closed.
Purchase the flowers early. Germans open and close promptly. It is my experience a last minute shopper, arriving near closing time, will not feel welcomed.
Be sensitive about colors:
- Red is the color of romance. Your hostess may blush, but not the host;
- Carnations signify mourning;
- Lilies and chrysanthemums are for funerals.
Your best choice is yellow roses. Ask the florist to wrap it up as a gift, or “Würden Sie das bitte als Geschenk verpacken? If they are not gift-wrapped, remove the wrapper before presenting them to the hostess.
Most importantly, a dozen roses do not work in Germany, or many European countries. Always give an odd number of flowers. The exception is 13 – an unlucky number in Germany as in other lands.
I asked my German colleagues where the rule for an odd number of flowers came from. One perspective is an odd number of flowers are easier to arrange. Others believe it is a norm or rule. Germans tend to embrace most rules, whether or not they are logical to other countries.
You are all set: an odd number of yellow roses, except 13, specially wrapped by the florist. Smiling hosts and no rules broken. Wunderbar!