Samstag, 27. Februar 2016

Strange German Holidays #14 - New Year's Eve

 So I finally got around to writing this last post of my holiday-series...and I'm only late by about two months! I'm sorry, I know writing this seems a little pointless by now, but I really wanted to bring this to a proper end. Now I don't suppose this is going to be a particularyly interesting post either - from what I gather, New Year's Eve is celebrated in a very similiar day in most of the western world - but nevertheless, here we go:

Just like Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve is no real holiday, although many people will get off work around noon, and many companies are closed between Christmas and New Year anyway. But while on Christmas Eve even the restaurants close up early, those will usually stay open on New Year's eve, many hosting parties for the celebration. It's not a strict family holiday either - many people will celebrate with friends, and there are even some 'mass parties', like in Berlin, where hundreds of people gather to celebrate the new year together. There usually is good food - often a 'social' meal, like raclette or fondue, where the food is prepared and eaten right at the table, and the room is decorated with streamers, which sometimes looks really funny when the christmas decorations are still up at the same time. There are also many symbols of good look - four leafed clover (either fake or actual life ones in flower pots), horsehoes, fly agarics, chimney sweepers and pigs (those are often made of marzipan), to get as much good luck for the new year as possible.

There are two traditional ways (that I know of) to pass the time until midnight, although I, personally, have only ever participated in the first one, which is watching Dinner for One. If you don't know it, it's a British short-comedy about a Lady and her butler and the celebration of her 90th birthday (curiously enough, it was first produced in Germany, even though the script and the actors are English). For the last fifty years, many television channels will broadcast different verions of the sketch (there's a German translation, and even a few versions in different dialects), and many families will watch it at least once on New Years Eve.
The other tradition I know of is orcales, especially 'Lead Pouring' - a small portion of lead is melted in a spoon over a candle, then it's poured into cold water, were it will set again in different shapes. Those shapes are then interpreted as omens for the next year - we've never done this, but my grandparents did when they were younger, and it does sound like a lot of fun!

Then, when midnight is approaching, everyone is getting ready, pouring champaing to toast with right as the new year begins, and starting the countdown. Right at midnight, the fireworks set in - they are only sold once a year, between Christmas and New Year, and some people will *really* go all out with tons of fireworks. Actually, there's usually some cracking and banging throughout the day, and even the days before, since some people can't wait, but the real fun starts at midnight, and often lasts for an hour before everything has calmed down. Afterwards, we will go in for tea and the New Year's Pretzel, and this is where the circle closes with my first post from January 2015.

Thank you so much for embarking on this journey with me, I had tons of fun writing about or holidays and learned a lot of specific details and history I didn't know myself. I hope you had some fun reading my posts, and that you wil continue reading my blog even now that this series is over - usual stitchy update is coming soon, I promise!

5 Kommentare:

katjakay hat gesagt…

I have loved this series on holiday I've learned so much

Heather hat gesagt…

Great interpretation I love the lead idea. We have a few similarities but there are a lot of different ones too!

Jo who can't think of a clever nickname hat gesagt…

Great post. I have heard of the popularity of the film, it's funny how some things sink into a nation's psyche and become part of them. A bit like Albania and their obsession with Norman Wisdom!
The lead thing sounds fun - hey kids, let's play with dangerous chemicals for fun! A friend of mine used to bring mercury into school for us to play with. Seriously, back in the 1970s you could get small amounts of mercury and let your children play with them. Rolling the liquid metal over your hands!

Susan hat gesagt…

Thank you for doing this series, I really enjoyed it. Never heard of the lead oracle. May have to try it though as we have a lot of lead around as The Hubs makes his own fishing lures.

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