Tuesday, 18 December 2012

German Tuesday: German Tradition - Silvester (New Year's Eve)

So this is it, the last part of my small German tradition series for this year and today I'm looking a bit further ahead and tell you about some things we do on New Year's Eve.

Silvester is the German name for New Year's Eve owing its name to the 4th century Pope Sylvester I. But despite the Christian name, many German New Year's traditions go back to the practices at the pagan Rauhnächte of heathen Germanic tribes that took place at the end of December and beginning of January.

As in many other countries we like to have parties on Silvester with fireworks and 'Böller' (firecrackers) at midnight. Every year Berlin hosts one of the largest New Year's Eve celebrations in Europe which is attended by over 1 million people and has its focus on the Brandenburg Gate but personally I prefer private celebrations with fireworks in the back garden. Also at midnight we toast with a glass of Sekt (German sparkling wine) or champagne.

I couldn't get hold of a picture of Berlin so here's a view towards Bonn city from my parents house.
 But even more fun are the hours leading to midnight and these include - believe it or not - watching the 1963 TV recording of the British comedy sketch 'Dinner for one' starring Freddie Frinton. It's a tradition to watch this and it holds the record for the most frequently repeated TV programme ever according the the Guinness Book of Records (1988-1995 eds.; later editions no longer have the category). And even though it's very popular in Germany and other mainland European countries, it is relatively unknown in Britain, Canada or the United States and is typically shown in the original English without dubbing or subtitles. The line "Same procedure as every year" has become a very popular catchphrase in Germany too.

Dinner for One - Freddie Frinton and May Warden
Bleigießen (pouring lead) is another German Silvester custom which involves telling fortunes by the shapes made by molten lead dropped into cold water.

Now try to tell your future from this peace of lead at the bottom.
By Micha L. Rieser (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

The phrase "Guten Rutsch!" is the common Silvester greeting which would translate to a 'good slide' into the new year but more likely comes from the Yiddish word 'Rosch' and means beginning. So to wish someone a Guten Rutsch! means simply wishing a good start to the New Year!

So have a Guten Rutsch! everyone and if you have a spare 18 minutes lean back, make yourself comfy and watch Dinner for One

 [via thelocal.de, wikipedia.org]

1 comment:

  1. Wish you happy new year to you and your family ..Nice blog..Informative ..