The temple plays a role in the social life of European Mormons that is significantly different in a couple of ways from the usual American experience.
The church is smaller and at a different stage of its development in Europe, and trips to the temple tend to last longer. Consequently, the temple is something like the Trafalgar Square for church members: if you wait long enough, everyone you know will show up there at some point. My experience with large temples like Los Angeles, or smaller temples like Detroit, is that the other people attending are either from my own ward, or they are strangers to me. In the Frankfurt temple, by comparison, reunions are unpredictable but practically guaranteed on any given visit, whether itâ€™s with a member of a ward where I once served as a missionary, or the former bishop of another ward where I once lived. The relatively higher mobility and density of church membership in the U.S. means that relocating usually takes you to a new temple district, but Germans who move to a new town are likely to remain close enough for periodic if unplanned reunions at the temple, particularly if the old or new ward is spending an entire week there.
The stake youth temple trip is also liable to replace the American stake youth conference. Some years our stake will book the temple hostel, while other years theyâ€™ll get rooms in a youth hostel. The teenagers in our stake spent five days at the temple this year, with classes and activities during the day, a dance or testimony meeting at night, and a baptismal session in the temple each morning. Since all participants had to be living according to the requirements for temple attendance, the stake president told the youth six months ahead of time that anyone who wasnâ€™t worthy to attend the temple could most likely become worthy if they started working on it right away. The worthiness requirement is a disadvantage for those who donâ€™t get to go, but it probably leads to a better experience for those who do.
In every state Iâ€™ve lived except for my time at BYU, attending the temple has meant leaving kids at home with a babysitter, driving to the temple after work on Friday, attending one session, and driving home. As far as I can tell, this model of temple attendance is rare in Europe.