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The end of the calendar year is approaching and we will all be celebrating New Years Eve soon. But do you know what is actually behind this festival? Where did the name New Year's Eve come from and why is it celebrated on December 31st? We explain that below…

How is New Year's Eve celebrated?

Where does the name Silvester come from?

The name Silvester comes from a 4th-century Roman saint, Pope Silvester I (also called Sylvester). Aside from the fact that he served as pope from 314 to 335, very little is known about New Year's Eve. However, several legends have sprung up around its name. One of them claims that he was miraculously cured of leprosy.

Pope Silvester I.

The feast of Saint Silvester, i.e. his burial, took place on December 31, 335. When the Gregorian calendar was reformed in 1582, the last day of the year was set to December 31st. And that's why today the last day of the year is called New Year's Eve. Despite the common date, most German New Year's traditions actually stem from a far older pagan celebration called Rauhnächte.

Where does the name Silvester come from?

New Year's Eve

Making a lot of noise was an important part of this ancient millennial tradition. Probably today the fireworks on New Year's Eve is the modern development of this tradition. After Christmas, the big sale of fireworks in German shops and supermarkets begins. Unlike the United States, most fireworks in Germany are legal, and there are very few public fireworks. The largest and most famous of these takes place at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

Fireworks are legal in Germany

Looking into the future

Some of the quieter traditions of the holiday allow predictions for the coming year. Wax casting is a favorite. One can purchase a wax casting kit at many stores throughout the month buy december A small wax figure is placed on a spoon and melted over a candle. The melted wax is then poured into a cup of cold water, and the resulting shape is said to tell something about the coming year.

Are you curious about what the coming year has in store for you? This ritual used to be performed with lead

Other New Year's traditions include using a pendulum to answer yes-or-no questions. Or opening the Bible to any page to predict the future. Various good luck charms in the form of pigs, clovers, ladybugs and horseshoes are sometimes exchanged among friends at the beginning of the New Year.

Dinner for one to one hundred people

In some regions, the traditional New Year's Eve lunch is lentil soup. Each round lentil is considered a symbol of a coin, and consuming the soup is a tradition said to open the doors to we alth in the New Year.

One of the most common choices for New Year's dinner is raclette. On the table are several bowls with prepared but uncooked ingredients such as cheese, potatoes, meat and vegetables. Each guest has their own small pan in which to cook a combination of the ingredients. Fondue is also a popular choice for New Year's Eve dinner.

Traditional dinner on New Years Eve

Jelly donuts are a common New Year's gift, but beware. It is also common for bakers to prank donut lovers by filling the occasional donut with mustard instead of jelly.

You have to have a little fun

The morning after

The morning of January 1st is inevitably quiet as the population sleeps off the previous night's celebrations. There aren't many events on this day, but one of the most unique takes place in Fussen. On the evening of the New Year's festival, men with torches in hand swim in the cold water of the Lech river.

Let it rip!

We wish you a Happy New Year!

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