German Greeting for New Year’s Eve

We say ‘Einen guten Rutsch ins Neue Jahr’ (A good slide into the New Year) a few days before and up until New Year’s Eve.

When the clock strikes midnight on 31 Dec, we say ‘Prost Neujahr!’ to friends and strangers outside while watching the ensuing fireworks and sharing drinks.

The word ‘prost’ derives from the Latin word ‘prosit’, and means ‘To your health’, or ‘May it be good for you’. A long time ago, this was used mostly by university students as a drinking toast. Nowadays, most Germans use it.

The day after New Year’s Day, I usually greet people with ‘Ein gutes neues Jahr!’ I might throw in a late ‘Prost Neujahr’ if I know them well.

Right now at about 8pm on New Year’s Eve, I wish you all a Guten Rutsch ins Neue Jahr!

What Germans Traditionally eat on New Year’s Day

Traditionally, we eat pork (simmered pork knuckle, Bratwurst, or smoked pork chops) and Sauerkraut on New Year’s Day. Eating Sauerkraut is especially important, as it promises a financially good new year.

Eisbein

In some rural areas, you might also find the Eierring or Eierweck on the kitchen table. Many years ago, families had to pre-order the Eierring days in advance to make sure to get one. Fewer and fewer bakeries sell these nowadays, as demand has gone down for this traditional form of bread. The Eierring, with its round shape, is similar to the horse shoe, another good luck charm.

Eierring in Franconia (northern Bavaria)

Growing up, I remember having the Eierring on New Year’s Eve (while it is still fresh) and mulled wine. Whatever was left, we had on New Year’s Day as it was supposed to be.

Same with the pork and Kraut – we had it for dinner this evening, and will have the remainder tomorrow, on New Year’s Day as it is meant to be.

Have a great New Year’s Eve, wherever you are!

German Word of the Day: die Weihnachtsgurke (Christmas Pickle)

A very long time ago, the Christmas tree was originally decorated with nuts and fruits. Then came the shiny stuff (Lametta, Weihnachtskugeln, Sterne).

Another supposedly German tradition says to hang a pickle onto the tree. Yes, a pickle. The lucky finder will get an extra present. The first time I heard of this tradition was about 10 years ago. It could be an American tradition with German roots.

I had hidden our pickle so well (out of sight, out of mind), I completely forgot to have my family search for it on Christmas Eve.

Weihnachtsgurke (Christmas Pickle)

Write a Letter to Christkind in Germany

If you believe in the Christkind, then send your letter to Himmelpforten, a small town west of Hamburg in the district of Stade in Lower Saxony.

You may start  your letter with ‘Dear Christkind’ or ‘Dear Santa’ (much less common). Here in Germany (mostly the central and southern part) as well as Austria, Czech Republic, Liechtenstein, Hungary, Slovakia and Switzerland, children get their presents from the Christkind on Christmas Eve. The word Christkind translates to Christ Child. If you write from northern Germany, you might address your letter to the Weihnachtsmann (Santa).
 

Frohe Weihnachten!

The post office in Himmelpforten, which translates to Heaven’s Gates, will process your wish list. I don’t know if you get anything from your list, this depends on whether you’ve been good or bad. 🙂
The post office lets you address your letter to either one of them, both the Christkind and the Weihnachtsmann (Santa).
An das Christkind
21709 Himmelpforten
But the address in itself, says: To the Christkind
No worries, if you don’t know German. Most Germans, placed in a professional setting, can handle letters written in English too.
In German, children write a Wunschzettel (wish list) to the Christkind (or Weihnachtsmann), which is a much more direct statement than just ‘writing a letter’ to Santa.