Ring in the New Year German style

For anyone wanting to celebrate the transition into the New Year based on German customs and traditions, here are some helpful tips to make this year’s celebration even more unforgettable.

Fireworks
Most German grocery stores sell fireworks Dec. 29 through 31. If one of those days falls on a Sunday, stores will start selling fireworks a day earlier. In order to purchase category F2 fireworks one has to be 18 years old, while category F1 fireworks, such as sparklers or “bang snaps,” are available for purchase to children 12 years and older.
People are allowed to release fireworks starting at midnight Dec. 31 until 12 p.m. Jan. 1. The exact times can differ from one city to another, as some communities allow fireworks only on Dec. 31 from 6 p.m. to January 1 at 6 a.m. Setting off fireworks next to hospitals, orphanages, retirement homes, churches and timbered houses is prohibited.
Shooting fireworks without permission from local authorities on any day other than Dec. 31 or Jan. 1 can be punished by fines up to 10,000 euros.
Be extremely cautious when attempting to drive after midnight, as streets will be filled with people, fireworks and trash, and driving through towns can become a hazardous task.

“Dinner for One”
Ready to celebrate Ms. Sophie’s 90 birthday this New Year’s Eve? Since 1963 German Families gather to watch the 18-minute long English sketch which introduces Ms. Sophie and her butler, James, who has to play the roles of Ms. Sophie’s four deceased birthday guests. Not only does he serve the three course meal, but he also has to pour the four gentlemen a variety of drinks, say a toast to Ms. Sophie for each one of them and drink their drinks.
Ms. Sophie’s birthday party can be seen at numerous air times on Dec. 31, which are listed in any German TV guide or can be found online.

Lucky charms
What do pigs, four-leafed clovers and chimney sweepers have in common? One can find them lined up next to horse shoes, ladybugs, and lucky pennies in German stores at the end of December. Whether as marzipan figurines, in small shapes for “Bleigießen” or as decoration in top hats or flower pots filled with clover plants, these lucky charms will ensure that the start into the New Year is as fortunate as it can be.

Food
Two common dinner ideas for a German New Year’s Eve are Fondue and Raclette. Meat lovers may find joy in Fondue, as meat is put onto metal skewers and fried in a pot of boiling oil or broth. Different dipping sauces, fresh bread, and sides complete the experience. Cheese lovers will appreciate Raclette. Raclette cheese and ingredients of choice are broiled in little pans and served with bread, potatoes, vegetables, meat or fish. As preparations for both meals are rather minimal, it is the perfect way to spend more time with Family and friends.

“Guten Rutsch”
After fireworks, entertainment and food are provided, a toast at midnight with a glass of “Sekt” or champagne, calling “Prost Neujahr” (Cheers New Year) will conclude the German New Year’s Eve experience. Germans wish one another a “Guten Rutsch” which translates to wishing a good “slide” into the New Year, relating to a smooth transition from one year into another.