Useful Notes: Der Stammtisch

Where the Brits have their pubs, the Germans have the Stammtisch - a table in a restaurant (or somewhere else where you can get something to drink while sitting) where a more-or-less fixed group of people (almost Always Male, at least in the past) meets informally, but regularly, for drinking, discussions and some Tabletop Games.

Originally, this was something for the Honoratioren (notable people), the most important people in a village: The mayor, the doctor, the priest, the teacher, the judge, the richest farmer, and so on. Later however, anyone could sit on a Stammtisch. (Not everyone on the same one, obviously - the point of the Stammtisch is still that it's for a given group of people, and it's considered a honor if outsiders are allowed to join the round.)

In small villages where there's no other entertainment (or at least, wasn't until TV became ubiquitous), the Stammtisch was the only kind of entertainment. In most cases, people would play various card games, especially Skat.

Also, the Stammtisch is a place for discussions, which can get political. Very political. To call a discussion a Stammtisch-discussion implies that it's become pretty populist, and in most cases not of the leftist kind.

There were and are also meetings of artists, philosophers and similar people (in this case, more often in coffeehouses) which are also called "Stammtisch", but that's not what most Germans would think of when hearing the word.

Examples in fiction:

  • Pumuckl regularly features Meister Eder at his regulars' table, digesting the most recent experiences with his Pumuckl.