New Year’s Eve in Germany @ 05:16 am
When the old year ends and a new one dawns, Germany celebrates. Parties and fireworks are the norm, although some people choose to spend Silvester quietly at home watching "Dinner for One" on TV.
"Silvester" - How the day got its name: There was a Saint Sylvester, der heilige Silvester. He was pope (Papst) from 314 until he died in Rome on December 31, 335. Legend has it that he cured Roman emperor Constantine I of leprosy (after converting him to Christianity, of course), for which the grateful emperor supposedly gave the Pope the so-called Donation of Constantine, granting him extensive rights to land and power. (This gift now seems to be a forgery going back to the 8th century.) St. Sylvester's relics were moved to the Church of San Silvestro in Capite, Italy in 762. St. Sylvester's feast day, December 31, is now called Silvester in Germany.
Neujahrsbräuche - New Year’s Customs
Fireworks on New Year's Eve (Silvester) are not unique to German-speaking Europe. People all over the world use fireworks (private or government-sponsored) to welcome in the New Year and drive out evil spirits with loud noises and sparkling, flashing pyrotechnics
Dinner for One
“The same procedure as every year.” This English line has become a familiar catchphrase in Germany. It’s part of an annual New Years' custom that began in 1963 when German TV first broadcast a 14-minute British stage sketch entitled "Dinner for One” aka "Der 90. Geburtstag". This short British sketch has become a German New Year's tradition. Yet, although it is a famous cult classic in Germany and several other European countries, it's virtually unknown in the English-speaking world, including in Britain, its birthplace.
“Lead pouring” is an old practice using molten lead like tea leaves. A small amount of lead is melted in a tablespoon by holding it over a flame, then poured into a bowl of water. The resulting pattern is interpreted to predict the coming year. For instance, if the lead forms a ball, that means luck will roll your way, a cross signifies death, and so on.
In addition to champagne or Sekt (German sparkling wine), wine, or beer, Feuerzangenbowle ("flaming fire tongs punch") still is a relatively popular German New Year's drink. The only drawback for this tasty punch is that it is more complicated to prepare than a normal bottled or canned beverage. Part of the popularity of Feuerzangenbowle is based on a classic novel of the same name by Heinrich Spoerl (1887-1955) and the 1944 film version starring the popular German actor Heinz Rühmann. The hot punch drink's main ingredients are Rotwein, Rum, Orangen, Zitronen, Zimt und Gewürznelken (red wine, rum, oranges, lemons, cinnamon and cloves).
Some Germans prefer to send a New Year's card rather than a Christmas card. They wish their friends and family "Ein gutes und gesegnetes neues Jahr!" ("a good and blessed New Year") or simply "Frohes Neues Jahr!" (Happy New Year!). Some use the New Year's card to tell family and friends about events in their life during the past year.