I have moved to Germany quite some time ago and New Year 2021 will be my New Year number 7 here! Super exciting, right? Over the years, I have celebrated it in many different ways – I had attended student parties, celebrated in the company of my German neighbors, stayed alone during New Year’s Eve and spend time with my loved ones. And every time it was the most special time of the year. To be honest, it is rather similar to the way it is celebrated in Ukraine – with some differences of course. Therefore, today’s post I have decided to dedicate to New Year and the way it is celebrated in Germany! So, let’s start.
In Germany, as in many other countries New Year celebration is centered around greeting new year and saying goodbye to the old one, so called “turn of the year”. It is believed that the way you transition from old year to new one will influence the way your upcoming year will be. All the domestic activities, like dusting, cleaning, ironing and other small repairs are done before the celebration. Usually people gather in a family circles, many attend parties and in some cases join the celebration in restaurants with concerts and buffets. During the day it is customary to give each other tiny gifts, like “luck bringers”. They are typically small chocolates, marzipan sweets or souvenirs in the form of pigs, horseshoes, four-leaf clovers or lady-bugs. They all are believed to bring luck. Chimney sweepers or “Schornsteinfeger” in German are also believed to bring good luck. I received one from my neighbors on New Year in 2018 in a beautiful flower pot – was super cute.
People gather around the table, laughing and chatting. The most common food to serve for the New Year Eve in Germany is carp, lentil soup, cheese fondue, raclette with bacon, potatoes, various finger foods (olives, pickles, salami pieces, cheese, chips). Unlike Christmas, people don’t spend too much time cooking on this day. As for the drinks it is widely spread to make red wine punch (mixture of red wine, rum and juice) or “Feuerzangenbowle” in German. Another tradition includes raising a glass of champagne (“Sekt”) as the clock turn 24:00! As for me, I am planning to do both raclette as well as typical Ukrainian New Year food – “Olivie Salad” – there is no New Year without it in Ukraine.
Many people buy special Sparklers to light up for New Year or “Wunderkerze” in German. I also bought some this year, almost forgot to place an order on time. Another huge thing on New Year in Germany is Fireworks! Before coming here, I have never thought that they are so popular. But they are! So many people set up fireworks! It is amazing. During New Year 2017, I lived in a room right in the city center and I was super excited and, well, scared too. The streets were full of smoke, fireworks were going all around for an hour or more. It was simply amazing. I was on Skype with my family in Ukraine to show them all beauty of the New Year in Germany.
! Interesting thing, is that the market of fireworks in Germany is very well regulated from government side. There are different categories of fireworks and each category has different set of rules. The ones usually bought by people for celebrations are from category F1, which include sparklers, small and table fireworks. They are allowed to be sold from the age of 12 and you can get them all year round! The bigger ones, which you can see during New Year celebration, belong to category F2 and the rules for them are more strict. Only adults (from 18 years of age) are allowed to buy those during 29th – 31st December (except for year 2020 due to Coronavirus no fireworks are allowed this year!) and the set off is allowed just in the night of 31st December – 1st January.
One of very fascinating New Year Traditions in Germany is pouring of molten lead or “Bleigießen” in German. But what does this custom mean? It is very old tradition originating from ancient Romans civilization. They used to melt a piece of lead in the spoon holding it above the burning candle or fire. Then you pour the melted lead in the glass of cold water. The melted lead usually transfers into some form, and based on that form you can interpret what is waiting for you in upcoming year. For example, if the form looks like a clover leaf, it can be interpreted for good luck, the heart-shaped form – for love. Cool, right? The pre-made sets for this New Year ritual can be also bought in stores, which is awesome in my opinion.
Another thing is a Countdown to New Year! Yes, 10 seconds before the New Year is about to come, people stand up, raise their glasses of champagne and loudly count down from 10 to 1! I just love this part – it brings so many nice memories of past years. Also, customary is to watch the address to the nation of the chancellor of Germany – Angela Merkel and watch the “Dinner for One” movie, which is regarded to be the movie of New Year in Germany.
And how are you celebrating New Year? Share your New Year Celebration traditions!