If reading the name of this column (How to #Minga) made your jaw drop to the ground, pack up its belongings and indignantly make its way out of the building, it won’t be the only one. The term has almost certainly displeased several hundred jaws, at the very least – most of them in Munich.
There’s a very good reason for that. Minga means different things to different people. Wikipedia lists six different possible meanings for the term, one of which is “penis in Sicilian” while another is “a village in the Ismailli Rayon of Azerbaijan”.
Noxious looking hag
Why’s your mum such a minga?
This is not even remotely close to what we mean. We think your mum is lovely; beautiful both inside and out. We would like to mum-date her. Is she on LMBB? We’ll pencil something in later. For now, let’s clarify that the Minga we’re talking about is the one that means “Munich” in Bavarian.
Yeah. Nothing to do with penises or hags. We hope you’re not too disappointed.
So what is “How to #Minga”?
In simple terms, it’s a list of hacks.
Munich is complex. It is gorgeous, neat, cultured, frustrating and puzzling. Sometimes very puzzling. Often downright weird. It’s mostly cool, though. Minga is the Bavarian name for Munich but not only in the strictly geographic sense: it also celebrates all of the city’s peculiarities… and there are many.
How to #Minga was created to tell you everything you need to know about — well — Minga. It is your guide to Trachten, eating sausages for breakfast, toilet poo shelves and that mint powder stuff all Bavarians snort at beer festivals. Read it. Love it. It will help you to survive in a city where drafts are deadly, water is fizzy and red means stop or be shunned by society forever.
Want to know more? Here is an insight into everything that is Minga from the lovely Karina, one of our regularly featured authors:
Minga, mia san mia and the way things are
Back in the 1960s and 70s nobody called Munich, Minga. There was no place for that because the city was going through its wild phase: parties, drugs, Schickeria and so on. They were the times when Mick Jagger used to visit Uschi Obermair, who went on to become a hippy icon, in her flat in Schwabing. Only country bumpkins called it Minga when they ventured, dreamy eyed and a bit scared, into the big city.
Times have changed. In the last few years, there has been a resurgence of traditionalism. In Germany, that has meant a shift towards regionalism. Historically and culturally Bavarians have always been much closer to Austria and maintained that distinction, claiming that only language united them with the rest of Germany.
Ever wondered why Germany has such a strong emphasis on heritage when it comes to immigration and naturalisation? Because, in contrast to many other countries, it is indeed the language as opposed to fixed borders that has been the uniting factor for centuries. The borders have been shifting constantly, leaving the question of German identity to be determined by language rather than place of birth (and language is whatever your ancestors spoke, hence the term, “mother tongue”).
Bavarians are very successful at establishing and exporting identity. What the world considers German is actually Bavarian (or even, perhaps, Austrian). Huge beer mugs, loads of sausages, leather pants, big women with blond hair and huge boobs and bottoms, oompah bands, mountains. All of these stereotypes show how well Bavarians have cultivated their mia san mia identity: believing that these things are typically German is like expecting all Brits to wear kilts.
You can tell that Bavaria has a distinct place within Germany through the existence of the Christlich-Soziale Union (CSU) — the political party that usually wins the popular vote in local elections. It only exists in Bavaria. In the rest of the country the conservative party is called Christlich Demokratische Union (CDU). The CSU has to differentiate itself from the CDU and it does so by doing things the “Bavarian way”. Otherwise the party would have no reason to exist.
This regionalism found its expression in the term Mia san mia roughly, “we are what we are.” Often shouted at football matches, it expresses the general feeling that Gloria Gaynor tried to convey in her song, “I am what I am”. It means: we are different.
It’s about identity.
Minga is about all that. It is about being different, being local, being an entity of its own and, last but not least, it is about identity. Identity as Bavarians but, since Munich is a cosmopolitan city that attracts millions of tourists and new inhabitants from all over Germany and the world, it is also an expression of a local identity that comprises the myriad multicultural influences. Minga – not Munich – is your new home.
Agnes Stockburger is a writer, editor and published author. In her glory days she wrote for the likes of Australian Broker, SheKnows and Yahoo!7. These days you’re more likely to find her sticking Duplo blocks in the fridge and the milk in the mailbox because OMG her kids will NOT sleep. She has lived in Munich for six years, has two dirndls and gave birth in German. Twice. This obviously qualifies her to write about the local culture with impunity.
Photo credit: Yolanda Ng is a cross creative who is a professional fashion designer, stylist, street style blogger for VON ZWEI and a photographer at Corner Store Photography. She is also the Creative and Marketing Director for LMBB.