Meet the locals…
Whether culture, relaxation or culinary delights: You can look forward to many memorable "Wow!" experiences when holidaying in Kassel. However, what are the people like who actually live here? What makes someone a "Kasseläner", a Kassel native, and above all, what makes them tick? Below, you will find some valuable tips – albeit they are not to be taken too seriously – on getting to know the locals, whether they are "Kasseläner", "Kasselaner" or "Kasseler" (don't worry, the subtle difference will be explained further down)...
How the local tribe evolved into what it is today
Today's "Kasseläner" (which is someone who is born in Kassel and whose parents were also born here) probably have more in common with the Germanic tribe of the Chatti than they themselves are aware of. Without a doubt, every "Kasseläner" is also a Hessian – and the name Hessian goes all the way back to the "original Hessians": The Germanic tribe of the Chatti (around 100 AD) → Hatti → Hazzi → Hassi (around 700 AD) → Hessi (738 AD) → Hessen ("Hessian").
Behaviour in public
The Chatti were the most skilled warriors of all the Germanic tribes – as anyone who has ever got into an argument with a northern Hesse native can vouch for. Like the Roman legionnaires, they carried field packs and always formed orderly ranks to do battle (which is pretty much what today's Hessians do when they go on a pub crawl). Tacitus noted that "For Germans, they have much intelligence and sagacity; they promote their picked men to power, and obey those whom they promote; they keep their ranks." Again, that is precisely what Hessians do when they join one of the many local clubs and associations.
They do like a "chat" in Kassel!
The most popular pastime of the former Chatti in northern Hesse is a character trait shared by all of them: They love to chat; to endlessly talk about anything and everything and to analyse it from every angle – as in-depth and as often as possible, and preferably, to complain about it. They like to nag, which is also why this lively social interaction is called "mähren" in northern Hesse – after a nag or an old mare... And the locals nag at everyone and everything: On a cloudy day, they nag the sun until it gives up and makes an appearance, and on a sunny day, they nag the sun until it goes away and makes way for some much-needed rain. That's the way they are, these northern Chatti!
The people from Hamburg are not the only people to have become synonymous with a certain food.
The people of Kassel can also lay claim to this distinction, although "Kasseler", which is a cured pork chop and well-known throughout the German-speaking countries, hasn't exactly made it internationally. However, despite this unfortunate fact, Kassel is still a very cosmopolitan city and an important, albeit down to earth and quite pig-headed international player. Incidentally, the famous local speciality "Ahle Worscht" – northern Hesse's "national dish" – also involves pigs in the form of pork.
From sparkling apple wine to honey beer and the Kasseler Hornaffe (a sweet treat already popular in the Grimm brothers' times), Kassel has a lot to offer on the culinary front. Of course, you also get hamburgers here, but that would be missing the point of visiting Kassel, wouldn't it! And anyway, a "Kasseler" cured pork chop is much more filling...
Which brings us to the difference between "Kasseläner", "Kasselaner" and "Kasseler". The latter is used to refer to those who have moved into the city but weren't born there; non-natives, as it were. Anyone born in the documenta city can rightfully claim to be a "Kasselaner", whereas only those who have lived in Kassel for at least two generations, i.e. anyone who was born here and whose parents, and preferably grandparents etc., were also born here, may rightfully call themselves "Kasseläner" (note the fine distinction denoted by the umlaut – the locals may be down to earth, but they also delight in subtleties).
World-class culture meets pragmatism: Despite their reputed cantankerousness, all Chatti or Hessians are innately inventive. As long ago as around 400 years ago, an object was invented here that has become ubiquitous: In 1585, the clockmaker Jost Bürgi made the first clock with a second hand. The Chatti appear to have a particular penchant for coming up with inventions that are related to timekeeping in some way: 56 years ago, Heinz Hille, who was later to become the mayor of Kassel, wanted to do something about the lack of parking spaces in his native city and without further ado, he simply invented an ingenious method for ensuring that people could park their cars in certain spaces for a limited time only. Even though he never patented his idea, the clever Chatti Heinz Hille is generally remembered as the man who invented the parking disc.