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New Year’s Eve in Germany: lovely traditions

New Year’s in Germany is a very special time, also because before Carnival there are no other festivities in the Country. Therefore, on New Year’s Eve in Germany, people spare no expense, and even restaurants and clubs are always packed. Silvester, that’s how New Year’s Eve is called in Germany, is also an opportunity to enjoy some traditions, actual rites of passage into the new year. And even for New Year 2013, German families are preparing their good luck charms to get welfare and prosperity for the new year.

And what could be better than predicting the future? This is what Bleigießen aka Molybdomacy is for: a bit of lead is melt in a teaspoon and then it’s poured into cold water. Depending on the shape it takes, people can predict their future.

If the lead takes a heart or ring shape, the meaning is clear, wedding coming soon! If you get a boat shape, it’s a journey, a pig or any fat animal stands for prosperity, but if it’s a whale, then action is necessary to lose weight. There is a book for the interpretation of the shapes sold along with Bleigießen kits. The only unfortunate shape is a perfect sphere: it means that luck will roll your way.

Other traditions associated with Germany’s New Year regard lucky charms, which are traded or given away the night of Holy Sylvester. These lucky charms are usually little chocolate pigs, a symbol of prosperity, but also chocolate clovers, horseshoes and chimney sweeps, a symbol of cleanliness awaiting the New Year.

A long-standing tradition is that of people leaving some of their New Year’s Eve dinner until after midnight, so that the new year can begin in the sign of abundance.

The most traditional dish consumed on New Year’s Eve in Germany consists of herring served with cabbage, carrots and potatoes. Also sharing cheese is considered a harbinger of good luck and prosperity, and, as in many other European countries, also eating lentils together. The dishes are prepared not only for guests but also for neighbours, it’s still a gesture that cements friendship. Tourists don’t have to worry, as Germany’s New Year’s Eve food traditions are respected in all the German hotels that organize a New Year’s Eve dinner for their guests.

New Year’s dinner is not complete without a Fondue or a Raclette, prepared right at the table with hot plates. And then, of course, almond desserts and Neujahrspretzel, typical New Year donuts. After dinner, walnuts, hazelnuts and raisins are eaten as a symbol of luck, and washed down with beer or wine. At midnight, a traditional “Happy new year” toast with Feuerzangenbowle, a traditional drink of some fraternities made with red wine, rum, orange peel, cinnamon and cloves.

Photo by Micha L. Rieser

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