Just like many people around the world, Germans celebrate the New Year the night before. Usually surrounded by friends and family, the Silvesterabend is quite the celebration in Germany.
Besides eating fondue, where cheese is melted and cooked meats and vegetables are dipped into it, Germans tend to celebrate with some quirky New Year’s Eve traditions, like watching British television.
Every New Year’s Eve German television broadcasts a British comedy sketch called Dinner for One. It’s been shown each year since 1963 and which has made it the most frequently repeated television show ever. Dinner for One tells the story of an elderly woman who is celebrating her a 90th birthday. Her butler, James, sets the table for Miss Sophie and her four friends as he does every year…. only, the friends have been dead for at least 25 years. She seems oblivious to this, and he plays along by not only pouring Sherry, Champagne, Wine and Port into the guest’s glasses, he drinks it all as well, making for one amusing evening.
In Germany, Silvester is also the Night of lots of fireworks! Making noise is key: rockets, Böller, firecracker – you name it, it’s there! The most famous fireworks display is held every year in Berlin at the Brandenburger Tor. I still remember as a child, the entire city of Berlin would be covered in a fog from all the fireworks people would set off right at midnight!
And of course you can’t forget about the sweets! Filled with various fruit jams, like strawberry, cherry and plum, Berliner are similar to doughnuts. Also known as Pfannkuchen or Krapfen in other parts of the country, the yeast pastries are traditionally eaten right after the clock strikes midnight and rolled in sugar.
Bleigießen or lead pouring in Germany involves heating small figures of lead over a candle and pouring the melted contents into cold water. The shape the lead forms will tell you what might happen in the New Year. Usually sold as a kit which includes a spoon throughout stores, a ban was implemented on them this year due to health and environmental concerns.