As the end of 2020 draws near (Gottseidank), we thought we might share with you a brief - and by no means complete - breakdown of German New Year's Eve (Silvester) traditions and lingo.
Join us at Hollerbach's for our Silvester/German New Year's Eve last seating at 7 pm!
"Dinner For One"
If you're not German, or haven't been there for Silvester (New Year's Eve) before, you might be wondering: 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 in the world is this 𝘿𝙞𝙣𝙣𝙚𝙧 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙊𝙣𝙚 thing all about?
Although the 𝘿𝙞𝙣𝙣𝙚𝙧 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙊𝙣𝙚 comic sketch was originally written for the British cabaret stage and is performed in English by a British cast, it is largely unknown in the UK and USA. But it became an instant hit with German audiences when a live performance of the skit was broadcast from a Hamburg stage on German television in 1963.
Its popularity continued to grow, and in 1972 𝘿𝙞𝙣𝙣𝙚𝙧 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙊𝙣𝙚 was added to the German New Year's Eve television schedule - and ever since, viewing that original 1963 performance on Silvester has been a NYE tradition in Germany that's as familiar as Lentil soup and Sekt.
Take a look at this video by the Deutsche Welle series "Meet the Germans" about the "Dinner for One" phenomenon - in English with subtitles!
Among the popular New Year's traditions in Germany and elsewhere in Europe is eating Lentil Soup (𝘓𝘪𝘯𝘴𝘦𝘯𝘴𝘶𝘱𝘱𝘦), which is meant to bring good luck and fortune because each lentil represents a coin - the more you eat, the richer you'll be! In some regions, Sauerkraut is also thought to bring good luck on New Year's Eve. Join us for New Year's Eve at Hollerbach's Thursday, where we'll be serving Theo's own Lentil Soup recipe and counting down to 2021 on German time (6 pm.)
3. Good Luck Charms (Glücksbringer)
Often given as gifts, New Year's lucky charms in Germany include Glückspilze (lucky mushrooms), Ladybugs, four-leaf clovers and little pigs usually made of pink Marzipan - Marzipanschweinchen.
4. Feuerzangenbowle (Fire Tongs Punch)
For many Germans, this is a must-have party drink on New Year's Eve. Methods vary, but a typical Feuerzangenbowle involves lighting a rum-soaked sugarloaf on fire and letting it drip into a bowl of hot mulled wine.
5. Other Food Traditions
Although you might end up at a party with a buffet of finger food, many people choose dishes that can be eaten over several hours as their last meal of the year, such as fondue, in which pieces of meat are cooked in hot oil. Also popular is raclette, where cheese is melted on a table-top grill, accompanied by meats, pickles and potatoes. The long meal shortens the wait until midnight. Baking Berliner Pfannkuchen (jelly donuts) around New Year's is also popular in some areas.
For this New Year's Eve custom, a small quantity of lead or tin is melted in a spoon held over a small flame, and then poured into cold water. The shapes that result are supposed to reveal what the year will bring.
7. The Chancellor's New Year's Address
The Federal Chancellor of Germany's New Year's address to the nation has been broadcast on December 31 since 1969. This year will mark Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel's 16th New Year's address. Fun fact: in 1986, Chancellor Helmut Kohl's address from 1985 was re-aired instead of the new one, allegedly "by mistake."
Just as here in the USA, fireworks are a big deal on NYE in Germany, especially large public fireworks display like the one presented every year at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate; however, this year they will mostly be absent due to public gathering restrictions. That's ok, that will just make 2021's Feuerwerk that much more special!
There are plenty of other Silvester traditions we could drone on about, like drinking champagne at midnight and making New Year's resolutions, but we'll just leave you with a lexicon of German New Year's vocabulary and wish you a Guten Rutsch!
Silvester - New Year's Eve, named for Pope Sylvester I
Guten Rutsch - good "slide" into the New Year, said before the New Year comes in
Prosit Neujahr - Happy New Year! (Lit., a toast to the New Year - don't say it before Jan 1st!)
Neujahr - New Year's Day
Mitternacht - midnight
Vorsatz - resolution
Trinkspruch - drinking "saying", or toast
Feuerwerk - fireworks
Sekt - sparkling wine
Counting Down in German:
10 - Zehn!
9 - Neun!
8 - Acht!
7 - Sieben!
6 - Sechs!
5 - Fünf!
4 - Vier!
3 - Drei!
2 - Zwei!
1 - Eins!