I love the turn of the year so much. But now, in lockdown, I have to make alternative plans or risk it just being yet another monotonous day. That’s when my friend told me about German traditions for the New Year’s Eve!
Finally, we are close to one of my favourite days of the year, New Year’s Eve. NYE, as some call it. I love this day because I didn’t need to ask for approval from my parents for night outs and sleepovers at my friends’ place! Every year this day and the subsequent start of the new year was a huge deal for me.
Usually I used to meet my friends around 9 pm. We used to buy a lot of food and drinks and just talk and play FIFA all the way till the clock struck midnight. It was such a simple and pleasant time. Last year, I found myself in Brno. I wanted to be in a city in Czech Republic; a small one so as to not get crushed and overwhelmed by the sheer number of people and also to enjoy a good amount of fireworks and celebration. True to its nature, the city brought out its fireworks and the celebrations were immense.
Fast forward to 2020 NYE. I had plans for Portugal and to spend the New year with my friends. We even planned the city we were going to celebrate the start of New Year in. Then the second wave of Corona happened. All the plans were thrown to disarray. I was pretty dejected before my friend told me about the traditions that Germans have for NYE. It came to be as a bit of a shock, as I never associated New Year celebrations with traditions. I thought everyone just partied and ate and drank through it. So I thought, since I am in Germany and not allowed to meet people anyway, I might as well try some of these traditions out!
As always, the first thing that caught my attention was food. Making fondue for NYE is a German tradition. I am pretty sure everyone knows what a fondue is (if not, it is a cheese-based amazing food! I suggest you look it up and you won’t regret it). I do hope I get all the ingredients that I need for the fondue. Germans also make raclette; where the cheese is melted on a table-top grill accompanied by whatever you want the cheese with. But beware, it requires a special raclette grill and it feeds up to 8 people! I suggest that you just remember this for 2021 New Year’s eve. I was even tempted to do one because two of my friends have this grill but there is going to be too much food leftover. So I am just going to make some fondue.
Next up, is the tradition called ,,Bleigiessen”(lead pouring). I know a lot of people don’t believe in future predictions and prophecies (me included). However, this is a fun little activity which you can do at your home. Traditionally, one used to get ,,Bleigiessen” material in the market. These were small lead substances and one used to melt them over a small flame of a candle or a lighter. After the lead melts, you quickly drop it into a bowl of cold water. It takes a strange shape and you can find a meaning on the internet or on the packaging. This is supposed to denote how your new year is going to be. There are alternatives to this now as lead is a toxic substance over large quantities. I, for one, can’t wait to try it out!
Another tradition that I am looking forward to is drinking Sekt and watching the classic sketch ,,Dinner for One”, as Germans do. The sketch is about an old woman celebrating her 90th birthday and her butler covering for her absent guests and getting drunk out of his mind (I haven’t seen it yet. I just got the gist of it from my friend). For some German people, it is ,,the same procedure as every year.” (You will get this reference when you watch the sketch apparently :P)
The fireworks are banned for this year sadly. Otherwise it would have been nice to see all the firecrackers exploding everywhere. However, this does give me the opportunity to just sit by my window with a glass of Sekt in my hand, just taking in the silence and breathing out all the stress of 2020. You might even see me raising a toast for all those who survived this year and the ones we had to say goodbye to, and welcoming you all to a hopefully better year in 2021.
Till next time,
Ajay Raghunath is an Angewandte Informatik Masters Student (he recently learned the pronunciation) from India. He has been an ESN member ever since and keeps saying he is an Arsenal fan like it is a badge of honour. He loves to eat even though it doesn't seem like he does. He is a traveller who likes to experience new adventures.