Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Germany

Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Germany

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New Year's Eve in Germany brings parties, raclette, glühwine and fireworks. Michele Carloni recalls New Year's Eve in Berlin and what to expect for a German New Year's celebration.

New Year's Eve (Silvester) parties and traditions in Germany vary slightly between the regions, but you can undoubtedly expect good food, gatherings, fireworks and mulled wine.

On New Year's Eve in Germany public transport – including the major metro lines in Berlin – operates more or less as usual. Revellers can reach the major city squares or travel to their favourite city venues snugly in a warm metro coach while temperatures outside drop below zero. Carrying alcohol is permitted, but for those who prefer to leave home empty-handed, you’ll find stalls at most street corners selling beer and mulled wine.

Fortune-telling

Although Germany celebrates Silvester with fireworks, parties and street spectacles like most other European countries, there are some popular national traditions such as Bleigießen; fortune-telling through reading the shapes made by molten lead dropped into cold water. Also the custom of drinking warm glühwine is the best way to warm up on an icy winter’s day or night.

Germany NYE

New Year's Eve in Berlin

Berlin probably hosts the biggest New Year’s blast in the country, celebrations which attract millions of visitors annually, both national and international. People tend to gather in the biggest squares such as Alexander Platz, in front of the Reichstag or around the Brandenburg Gate, which is the focal point of the capital’s New Year's Eve celebrations. 

These famous spots can be so crowded that police need to intervene through blocking passages and regulating pedestrian traffic.In 2009 for instance, those who decided to head for the Brandenburger Tor after 10.30pm were disappointed to find the surrounding streets packed and police barriers everywhere.For those who like to celebrate the midnight chime in the open, it is therefore advisable to move early in the evening. 

If milling with the crowds doesn't appeal, then find a private party. Private parties on Silvester are popular, with people only filtering out onto the streets to mark midnight and then heading back indoors or out for a night of clubbing. Due to the metro running late into the night, last minute decisions on whether to stay in or go out can be done without too much stress.

German food for New Year's

During Silvester many Germans cook up raclette, which is a traditional dish based on the cheese of this name accompanied by potatoes and cucumber – or vegetables and meat to taste. A modern electric raclette grill with small pans is the most common way to serve it.



Fireworks

Around the world, rounds of fireworks sparkle and crackle into the sky at the witching hour, yet here in Germany, and especially in Berlin, it seems to be an obsession. From windows, terraces, balconies and roofs, with typical German resolve and accuracy, families feel compelled to shoot off their round of crackers and bangers. This home 'concert' doesn't stop till the major 'orchestra' playing in the streets and in the squares begins to fade out.

 

Michele Carloni / Expatica

Michele Carloni is an artist based in Berlin.

Photo credit: © The World of Playing Cards. / Published 2011; updated 2016.

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