German New Year

FeuerzangenbowleSince I grew up in Canada, I didn’t always have the opportunity to celebrate special events the way children in Germany would celebrate with their families. But I am still fascinated by these traditions and hope to introduce some of them to my children and eventually, my grandchildren. The other important point is that my parents were both not born in Germany proper, and have both come from “Volksdeutsche” (people who were born in other territories or countries, but still had German blood and citizenship). My parents were both born during the war, and with their families on the move, and the borders changing hands a few times, they had different traditions they followed, or were just glad to have reached a New Year and didn’t need to follow traditions, except attending church in gratitude.

Here are some ideas:

1. Feuerzangenbowle: this is where they take a clump of sugar, slather it with wine, place it on a metal clip with a slit in the middle and set it on fire, so that the burnt sugar drips into a pot or bowl filled with the rest of the wine. It is a very impressive activity, and one that I enjoyed seeing as a child.

2. Fireworks: Vancouver, BC where I live now sometimes offers fireworks and sometimes doesn’t. To be honest, I am not necessarily a fan of fireworks! I would go, if I was going with my family or in some kind of group.

3. Lead melting: you melt a bit of lead over a handle, let it cool off in some water and then read your future in the shape the lead has turned into: money, fame, health?

4. Blessing of wealth: You need to keep a pig around, as that represents “Good luck” or wealth in German. On the other hand, ensure that you are not eating a goose, as they fly away with your luck! Save up a “scale” or your New Year’s Carp and carry it around in your purse. This could ensure a regular flow of cash. If you want an abundant amount of change, ensure that you have a significant amount of lentil soup in your cupboard, or serve it on New Year’s Eve! You can also eat four leaf clovers or little chimney sweeps made out of marzipan.

5. Food & Drink: fondue or racelette, lentil soup, carp/fish or sweet apples dipped in honey. For drinks, people enjoy the Feuerzangenbowle, drinking champagne precisely at midnight and then throwing the glass over one of your shoulders, since “broken glass = good luck”. You can also say “Prosit Neujahr!” or “Guten Rutsch” – which means that we hope you find success in the New Year.

As entertainment, you can watch “Dinner for One” (now on YouTube), which is also known as the “90th Birthday of Miss Sophi”.

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