How to be an Alsatian!

Text read by Mary Peters

Monique & Bernard explain it to us.

The main thing about being an Alsatian is speaking the dialect. You are not a true Alsatian if you do not speak the dialect. But the dialect can change from village to village. In Seebach, the dialect is a wider “country dialect” but in Haguenau and Strasbourg, it is more a “city dialect”. By listening to the dialect, locals can hear where another person comes from. It is not important but just defines the region. 

In Strasbourg, when people hear our local dialect, they say, “Oh, they are farmers”. We simply smile and say nothing. Twenty years ago, I played football for Soultz. When we played against Strasbourg, they laughed at us. But not, when we won the match.  

When somebody in Paris hears us, then we are “German” for them. Again, we simply smile. “We talk as we please “. When we speak French, we have a slightly different accent. The funny thing is that a Provencal accent is acceptable, but an Alsatian accent is always commented upon.

A typical Alsatian likes tradition – folklore traditions, food & drink. He likes his house and garden. His mentality is “my home is my castle.” People are very house proud. 

Alsatians are extremely patriotic at a local level. This is typical of many French regions as well. But in the Alsace, it is part of our history. Over the centuries, we belonged to either France or Germany. We had to accept the government administration, education systems, language of each new “occupier”. Over time, that leaves an impression. 

We have a love-hate relationship with France. We are a rich region, we have our identity, we are conservative, very down to earth. We work hard. Germans like Alsatians because we work a lot, and we do a good job. The quality of our work is very high. 

We are stubborn. An outsider does not have an easy time in the beginning. An Alsatian is also suspicious of new people and things. The younger generation is the same. Over time, when we get to know the outsider, then we open up. But it is a slow process. 

Good food and drink, this is the most important. We are like the French in this. We like life, we like to have a good time. This means spending time with family and friends, going on holidays, visiting other regions, sitting in cafés watching other people. But we also like staying at home (because we have nice homes and maintain them).

We like our identity, our monuments, our symbols in the costumes, our traditions. We also like modernity. We are not backward, we use Facebook and modern technology, but it has to give us a positive benefit. We like structure and cleanliness. After a party, when everything is finished, we immediately tidy up. We were raised like this.

We do not like when the Germans win in football (or any other sport), then we are “French”.

Our region is full of history and beauty. This is what makes it interesting: there is a variety of landscapes, (plains and mountains) authentic villages (half-timbered houses) to large cities (Strasbourg, Colmar, Mulhouse), local cuisine, vineyards (Route du Vin), the architecture. We have many festivals, ranging from local village festivals to the gigantic Christmas Market in Strasbourg and other towns. You can visit many different monuments: churches, castles, monuments from WWII, the museums. The list is endless. 

Even the climate is perfect: it offers everything: winter snow to spring flowers, warm summer days and autumn colours. You can experience all four seasons.

Moving to another region in France? No! We have our roots here; life is good. “Why should I leave Paradise?” We like going away on holidays, but we love to come home again. Home is the best.

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