New Year's Eve in Germany is called Silvester. The last day of the year is the saint's day of pope Silvester, who died 31 December 335.
New Year's Eve traditions often include old superstition, which has been passed on for centuries. But customs & what is considered typical Silvester food vary throughout the country.
Read on & enjoy my random collection of New Year's Eve traditions in Germany. You will also learn some common expressions we use at the turn of the year.
I admit, the above picture is a composition. Fireworks to welcome the new year are very popular, indeed we Germans spend a lot of money on private pyrotechnics. However, lighting firecrackers close to the historic half-timbered houses is prohibited by law, so they are banned in many old towns.
Many cities & towns have their official fireworks that are safe & under control, the biggest is certainly the one in Berlin.
This is a result of the old pre-medieval belief to ward off evil spirits with a lot of noise. Now these days, the displays of fireworks are just for joy.
Amongst all the noise of the fire-crackers you'll also hear the sound of church bells ringing around midnight.
Fireworks for private use are only available to buy from December 27. It is allowed to burn them off on Silvester & New Year's Day.
We Germans have a lot of choice how to spend the night and greet the new year.
There are public parties with local music bands, Silvester dinners at restaurants, and parties amongst family & friends.
Shortly before midnight we open a bottle of sparkling wine (Sekt), or champagne. Then we count down the last seconds of the old year... 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1... Prost Neujahr!
There are some do's and don'ts for that special day. This list is by far NOT complete, it mostly reflects the customs I grew up with in Hessen. Other regions might have different traditions.