Saturday, December 31, 2005

einen guten Rutsch in das neue Jahr!

That's what Germans wish each other in the days preceding New Year's Eve. I was all set to tell you that it means 'Have a good slide into the new year', the German rutschen meaning 'to slide' but then I looked it up (I loooooooove the internet) and found that it actually comes from the Hebrew Rosh Hashanah. Rosh means something like 'head' or 'start' and it's there that the expression Rutsch originated. Wow, who knew?

In 1582 the Gregorian calendar reform changed the last day of the year from December 24 to December 31. It was on this day that Pope Silvester I died in 335 A.D. and in remembrance of this event New Year's Eve is known as Silvester in German.

We've finished our New Year's dinner now and are whiling away the last couple of hours before midnight.

We had a meat fondue, as we've done for many years, but a couple of years ago we got tired of doing the meat in hot oil and decided to cook it in broth instead. It's much less fatty, and at the end you get a delicious soup for the next day. We also did some jumbo shrimp which turned out really well.




Remember the chimney sweep? Well, he's back again as a good luck symbol for German New Year's. As a table decoration I got each of us a little four-leaf clover plant with a chimney sweep in it. He's holding a red and white toadstool, another Glücksbringer or lucky charm here. Other good luck symbols in Germany include lady bugs, pigs and horseshoes.





Another Silvester activity in Germany is Bleigießen, the practice of melting bits of lead to predict the future. The lead is melted in a spoon and then quickly dipped in water where it hardens into all sorts of interesting formations.



I missed having Christmas crackers this year, but Mr. M found some New Year's crackers for sale. Wheee! Mine had a yellow plastic heart charm in it. Please discuss.




The highlight of the kids' Silvester is letting off loads and loads of firecrackers and rockets. And when I say loads, I really do mean loads. What is it about little (and big) boys and fire?



All that noise makes me a bit nervous so I stay inside and watch the fun from there. There are also wonderful fireworks all over Hannover which we can see them quite clearly from Boy9's bedroom window.

It's also customary to eat jelly doughnuts at midnight in Germany. The significance of this is beyond me, but apparently one of the doughnuts is traditionally filled with mustard instead of jelly (we don't do that because, really, what a waste of a good doughnut!) and I'm assuming whoever gets that one will have either extraordinarily good or bad luck in the coming year.

I'm wishing all of YOU a wonderful 2006, whatever your hopes and dreams for the days ahead may be.






14 Comments:

At December 31, 2005 11:32 PM, Blogger Sparky said...

Have a great new year Mausi!
We are just preparing over here...

- Sparky

 
At December 31, 2005 11:44 PM, Blogger Cathy said...

Everything looks just great!
Happy New Year!

 
At December 31, 2005 11:50 PM, Blogger christina said...

Hey Sparky! Hope you guys have a great time!

Thanks, Cathy! You've still got a little ways to go.

 
At January 01, 2006 1:14 AM, Anonymous Armin said...

Frohes Neues Jahr!

And thanks for the explanation of "Guten Rutsch", I just linked to it as I didn't know about the background.

 
At January 01, 2006 1:40 AM, Blogger Expat Traveler said...

I always wondered what Silvester really meant. Good to know that one. I'm missing the fireworks too. I don't think many people here in Vancouver do that. It just seems better when you have group of people to do it with too.

 
At January 01, 2006 1:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy 2006 to you!
BTW Rosh means head in Hebrew. Rosh Hashanna simply means Head of the Year.
Those pics of your table and the decorations were interesting.

 
At January 01, 2006 2:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i love that toadstools are good luck charms! lately i've had a big thing for mushrooms, especially the cute ones with red tops.

 
At January 01, 2006 2:28 AM, Anonymous milk and cake said...

p.s. i tried not to leave that message anonymously! but it saved it that way. sorry!

 
At January 01, 2006 10:04 PM, Blogger melusina said...

Mustard in a doughnut? Way to ruin someone's tastebuds for the year! But the Germans love mustard, don't they??
Mmm, jelly doughnuts, you can't get a good doughnut in Greece to save your life. And sometimes they spell it "donats".

Kali Chronia! Many blessings for the new year!

 
At January 01, 2006 11:05 PM, Blogger Dixie said...

I was so mad at myself for forgetting to buy the Bleigiessen stuff. I really wanted to do that this year.

I mentioned to B that y'all had meat fondue for supper and he said "Now that's Silvester! I can't handle it though because you eat yourself hungry!". He cracks me up.

Great fireworks could be seen from our balcony. Much better than in our our apartment. And the cops gather their cars at the Uni-Platz (just down the street from me) and from midnight until five after they flash their lights and run their sirens.

Doesn't it seem weird that pigs are good luck symbols but it's bad to call someone a Schwein? And of course actually being a pig isn't so lucky here.

 
At January 02, 2006 12:30 AM, Blogger Elemmaciltur said...

Hahaha, yeah, you saw that our 2005 went with a bang! ;) Happy New Year to you, too!

 
At January 02, 2006 12:47 AM, Blogger christina said...

milk and cake - thanks for visiting!

melusina - I have to try to find out what the mustard thing is all about. You can rarely get regular doughnuts here, but jelly dougnuts are all over the place.

Dixie - yup, Germany is not a very good place to be a pig. :-) The fondue stuff cooked pretty fast, actually. I think it depends on how many people are sticking their forks in there at the same time.

Elemm - We don't want you or T blowing yourselves up now, do we? :-)

 
At January 02, 2006 8:08 AM, Anonymous rebecca said...

Ahhh... the little plant that I got from someone with a chimney sweep in it suddenly makes sense.... thanks for explaining it, I had no idea it was symbolic (the Swiss love little decorative stuff, so it could easily have not meant anything).

Happy New Year!

 
At January 03, 2006 8:54 AM, Blogger Prairie Girl said...

Thank you and Happy New Year Christina!

Finally, the melting-lead business is explained ... I saw a group doing it on TV and had absolutely no idea what that was about!

And Silvester! I have been wondering about that ever since I got here. I had asked some people but they just said it was a religious thing. I couldn't relate to that because I had only ever heard of Sylvester the Puddie Cat.

With your explanations I can now rest easier here in Germany :-)

 

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