German Culture: The Mice Will Dance on the Table (Phrases)

One of the best things about learning a new language is learning phrases. Learning a culture’s phrases or saying really gives you an insider’s perspective to the people and the culture. Since Chris is out of town, I thought it would be appropriate to share my favorite German phrase that I just recently learned.

In English, we say:

When the cat’s away, the mice will play.

In German, they say:

Wenn die Katze aus dem Haus ist, tanzen die MĂ€use auf dem Tisch.

When the cat’s out of the house, the mice will dance on the table.


I love this phrase for so many reasons, not the least of which being that I am definitely guilty of dancing around my house to loud music, when Chris is gone. (Okay, its not so loud because we are in Germany and I do when Chris is home, as well.)

As I said before, phrases and sayings, give you a peek into the culture. Ironically, in my opinion, this is not very descriptive of German culture. Germans love holidays and celebrating, but I don’t imagine peeking into the window of a German and seeing them dancing around their house to loud music, while their spouse (or roommate or kids) are away.

But, this phrase makes me think that I may be wrong about Germans. Germans do follow proper decorum in order to maintain their public face, but clearly what goes on behind closed doors is a little less proper and just another reminder, that once you break past the outer German shell, there are some crazy cool people waiting to be known.

I personally think we should adopt this phrase in America. Its much more representative of our culture than the phrase we currently use.
Who’s with me?

What phrases do we use that you think describe Americans?

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  1. says

    I don’t know about phrases describing Americans…but my favorite learned-in-Chemnitz phrase was,

    “Ich habe schon Pferde vor der Apotheke kotzen gesehen.”

    If you haven’t heard that one, ask somebody about it. It’s entertaining.
    ; )

  2. HĂ©ctor Manuel PĂ©rez Saad says

    The best phrase that describes “Americans”, letÂŽs say the Americans that live in the United States of AmĂ©rica, is: “time is money”

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