Context: The interviewee, S, is 18 years old and they were raised in Dusseldorf, Germany. Their mother had taught them this German proverb when they were young. The English translation of this proverb is “with hat in hand, you can go through all the land” and S told me that it basically means to be polite and everyone will be nice back because tipping your hat is a gesture of politeness.
Analysis: I wasn’t able to find when and where the proverb originated from, and S also did not know, only that it’s a common German proverb in the city where they grew up. I think it’s quite an interesting proverb and it makes a lot of sense to me. I interpret it as not holding your chin up too high and thinking you’re better than everyone else around you but instead staying humble and grounded, which will help you lead a much more fruitful and insightful life. I have always learned to not wear hats inside because it’s a sign of disrespect to the people around you, so by having your hat in your hand, you are communicating that you’re giving all of your attention to the room and the people in it.