New Year’s Eve in Germany

Last year, the firework industry took in euro 133 million in sales in Germany alone. Personally, I could do without this air – and noise pollution. On the other hand, I understand that some people (mostly men, I’d suppose) see this as a bit of Wild West fun.

Revenues from firework sales reached their peak in both 2016 and 2017 with € 137 million in sales. In 2018, the New Year’s celebrations brought in € 133 million, as did 2019. Let’s hope for a continuous drop in sales.

Fireworks on New Year’s Eve

“Nothing shows a man’s character more than what he laughs at.” , said Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

I’ll be laughing a lot on New Year’s Eve, when I watch Dinner For One. I’m the only one in our family from a 100% German gene pool, and have been told only a German could find this show funny. True. Nobody else in my family laughs with me. One of them might laugh about me, while I’m doubling over in laughter. 🙂

Back to the fireworks – in spite of them being produced mostly in China, I still want to wish your people 祝 你 们!

fireworks – das Feuerwerk (German)

New Year’s Eve – Silvester (German)

What Germans like to buy for New Year’s Eve (Silvester)

The German supermarkets have been swamped since yesterday. The madness will continue until tomorrow afternoon, 31 Dec, when the shops close at 2pm. Here are a few items Germans like to buy around this time of year.

Clover, pigs, and chimney sweeps are good luck charms and make a nice thank-you present for co-workers, neighbors, etc.

chimney sweep

Fireworks sell out quickly. Our children got their own share of firecrackers and bottle rockets.

Germans spent 113 million euro on fireworks last year. If I had any say in this, I would stop this waste.

fireworks for sale in German supermarket

Then, some of us tend to give our friends drinks with interesting labels, such as ‘Kalte Muschi’, which is a coke and red wine mix, or plain red wine with an alluring name.

Drink names

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”

(Little Gidding)
― T.S. Eliot

The World’s Largest Feuerzangenbowle is in Nuremberg

Wondering what a Feuerzangenbowle is? Had several translations on offer from the internet, but as this is something purely German, translations offer little meaning. Well, it is a heavy drink, put together by mostly red wine and rum, and other little seasonings.

Try h2g2 website where you find a complete definition of this drink along with the recipe and much more.

Anyway, the city of Nuremberg has put up the biggest Feuerzangenbowle of the year. A special kettle had to be built to hold 9000 liters, 2,50 meters in width, 3,40 meters in height and it weighs 1,8 tons.

The Feuerzangenbowle can be viewed and tasted from 25 Nov 2011 until 01 Jan 2012. This drink, consumed from the time of advent until New Year’s Eve, is supposed to warm your heart and soul during the cold winter months.

To view photos, visit Frankenradar.

Blue Moon on New Year’s Eve

Just in case some of you are feeling a bit down or irritable, blame it on today’s Blue Moon. The year 2009 will end in an unusual way by having a second full moon termed Blue Moon tonight (the last one was on 2 Dec).

Astrophysicists from the Goethe University in Frankfurt stated that this phenomenon of having a full moon twice in one month only happens every two to three years. In addition,  Blue Moon on New Year’s Eve happens only once every 19 years.

Astrologists point to this constellation as a possible cause for tension, aggressive behavior,  and negligence, which may lead to depression, arguments, and accidents.

On the other hand, you may also view tonight’s Blue Moon as a good-luck charm and turn it into something positive. Remember Our fate is not only determined by what happens to us, but how we react on it.

Good luck charms for the New Year

If you are in Germany, you will hear and probably have heard Germans telling you Einen guten Beschluss! (A good closure!) or Einen guten Rutsch! (A good slide). This is only said before New Year’s Day. As of tomorrow the greeting is Ein gutes Neues Jahr!

Lastly I want to share my childhood parish priest’s words, written by him into my poetry book many years ago.

Schaue mutig vorwärts, gläubig aufwärts und dankbar rückwarts. (Look courageously forward, faithfully upward, and gratefully backward)

This is how I feel: I hope for good and interesting things to come, I want to remember to use my talents wisely, and start each day giving thanks.

Einen guten Beschluss!!

Raclette, Fondue & Bleigießen

In this edition of German Words Explained we take a look at three traditions associated with New Year’s Eve.

Raclette is originally a traditional Swiss dish made from cheese.  A large piece of cheese is put near a fire and is brought to melting point.  When the cheese is soft and about to melt, a layer is scraped of and eaten with bread.

The modern raclette is an electrical table-top heater.  Small dishes are filled with chopped-up vegetables, eggs, sausage rings and other small pieces of food and then covered with cheese.  These are then placed under the element of the raclette.  Many raclettes have a metal top where meat or bread can be fried, some even have stone tops for cooking steak.

Foundue is probably the most well-known outside of Germany, also being a traditional Swiss dish.  Originally made by melting cheese and often wine over a flame, many people in Germany use the same form to heat cooking oil on New Year’s Eve and cook small pieces of meat in it.  Others melt chocolate instead and dip pieces of fruit in it.

Bleigießen is definitely not to eat, it is a tradition that families carry out on New Year’s Eve.  They buy small packets of lead – often together with a special spoon.  The lead cubes are placed on the spoon and held over a candle so that they melt.  Once the lead is molten, it is dropped into cold water where it sets into a new form.  The trick is then to decipher what the form means for each person for the coming year.

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

(Press the “play” button to listen to the podcast)

Download a transcript

Download the MP3 file | Subscribe to the podcast

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